Hotel Fear

Hotel Fear ★★★★

Slow burning mystery set in a delapidated Italian hotel during World War 2. It's a hard one to classify, but principally Francesco Barilli's film is the story of a young girl left alone and vulnerable following the death of her mother. Every guest in the hotel is a threat, and they are all after one thing. Like the director's first film, The Perfume of the Lady in Black, this one is often lumped in with the Giallo genre despite sharing few elements in common - and here the Giallo elements creep in only towards the end. Hotel Fear does feature some of the sleaze that would populate the later genre efforts - but this film has plenty of artistic merit to its credit. The story serves as a metaphor for the people left at home during war - detatched, vulnerable and afraid their relatives may never return home. The ambiance is constantly fraught - the large hotel giving off a real air of claustrophia, bolstered by an unsettling score. It's slow burning but hits hard in places - a shocking rape scene in particular. Luc Merenda is the standout among the ensemble cas, mainly because the role is so far away from the dashing heroes he usually plays. A well made and interesting film - well worth the time.

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