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  Hall Corridors Of Dour
Year: 2020
Director: Francesco Giannini
Stars: Julian Richings, Carolina Bartczak, Yumiko Shaku, Mark Gibson, Bailey Thain, Vlasta Varna, Dawn Ford, Kathleen Fee, Val Mervis, Kim Richardson, Christopher James Giannini, Genti Bejko, Mohamed El-Husseini, Rebecca Rowley, Kayo Yasuhara
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: There has been another pandemic threatening, this time in Canada where Val (Carolina Bartczak) and her family - husband Branden (Mark Gibson) and daughter Kelly (Bailey Thain) - have been driving through the night to reach a hotel. Once they get to the gates, someone walks in front of their car and Branden quickly grows furious, with Val attempting to calm him down: she gets out and sees that the person is a pregnant woman, Naomi (Yumiko Shaku) struggling with her case. Once this is sorted out, they enter the hotel and check in, with Branden being oddly passive aggressive towards his wife all the time, and possibly trying to turn Kelly against her. But Val will have more than that to worry about - in mere hours, the pandemic will grip.

We are well aware of this because the editing saw fit to include lengthy flashforwards to Naomi crawling along the carpet of the titular corridor in a very bad state indeed, something you could understand would infuriate the less patient viewer, but in effect, if you were attuned to its off-kilter vibes, could prove to be unsettling when you were fully expecting things to go to Hell as you had seen it happening. That we eavesdrop on Naomi on the phone to her mother, relating how this is a new chance for her in a foreign land away from an abusive partner, renders a degree of poignancy that might not have been otherwise present, as well as a mirror image of Val's "more to it than meets the eye" relationship with Branden, suggesting men have grown toxic all over.

That could be literally, as serial villain actor Julian Richings has also checked into the hotel and is somehow orchestrating the infections across the hotel, and it is implied, across the country too. He has something to do with the government, or perhaps a shadowy agency, and he is not in the film for very long but has such screen history that you might as well regard him as a horseman of the apocalypse. Mind you, nobody is in Hall for very long, as it lasted barely over an hour sans credits, the effect of a couple of factors: director Francesco Giannini had made his previous films in the short form, and this in particular was created under the actual pandemic of 2020, so you had to presume there was only so much they could shoot, and only so much of that footage they could employ, before the real life virus restrictions bit into the production.

Nevertheless, making a movie about a pandemic while an actual pandemic was occurring took some chutzpah, and fed into the nervy, "Don't touch me! Don't breathe in my direction!" mood of the piece. Really it was closer to an arthouse horror than your traditional shocker, and while the fictional infection does make some of the men more violent as they try to wrestle out of their death throes, this could not be described as a traditional zombie movie, or even one of fellow Canadian David Cronenberg's outbreak chillers. The theme of the males behaving sneakily controlling and potentially violent behind closed doors made the way we met an ageing gentleman who was actually very decent come the end surprisingly jarring, though these posh folks are the equivalent of the guests on the Titanic, unaware of the dangers that their fellow citizens meet with every day since their lives have been blessed with the well-behaved and considerate. Bleak was the word to describe Hall, not giving any quarter as far as hope went; given more time and funds, it could have been more powerful, but if you liked the offbeat and the atmospheric then you would likely respond. Music by Michael Vignola.

[Hall will be released on UK Digital Download and On Demand from 13th September 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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