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  Hotel Poseidon Sleep Out Hell
Year: 2021
Director: Stefan Lernous
Stars: Tom Vermeir, Ruth Becquart, Anneke Sluiters, Tania Van der Sanden, Dominique Van Malder, Chiel Van Berkel, Tine Van den Wyngaert, Steve Geerts, Gene Bervoets, Tessa Friedrich, Anne-Laure Vandeputte, Julia Ghysels, Darya Gantura, Anke Somers
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dave (Tom Vermeir) awakens in the Hotel Poseidon, which has been his home since childhood and he has inherited, though he is reluctant to make it a going concern, indeed any guests that may stray in are not especially welcome as Dave would rather allow the place to go to wrack and ruin. The man in the room next to his is watching pornographic videos at top volume, which Dave could well do without, and he lets him know in no uncertain terms that he would prefer if he turned that down. This prompts the masturbator to attempt to strike up a philosophical conversation about existence and the owner's journey through it, whether he can make any sense of it or not. As he takes his pills, Dave has an inkling this will be a tough day to endure...

It could be a tough film to endure as well, as writer and director Stefan Lernous made his big screen debut (after a television series a decade before also created in his native Belgium) appeared to be trying to make his work as difficult to enjoy as was humanly possible. This looked to be in the service of having the audience appreciate what an utterly miserable existence its unhappy protagonist had to live through, and though we are not privy to any others of his days, we can tell by this one that he would not disagree if you observed he was trapped in Hell. We never go outside the crumbling walls of the hotel, and to all intents and purposes neither does Dave, either preferring to keep outside interaction to a minimum or having absolutely no choice in the matter.

One thing it would be difficult to disagree with was how precisely and well-designed this was, every scene shot in a studio that had been crafted to within an inch of its life to replicate the squalor of a rundown building that somehow still had tenants in it. Despite our hero telling people it was no longer open for business, he didn't half get a lot of company, all of it utterly unwanted thanks to the way they were dead set on aggravating him to the point of distraction. When his aunt dies, a compassionate ear might have been the thing to help Dave through his grief, but for a start the undertakers come across as being as insane as everyone else and determined to squeeze as much cash out of the service as they can, rather than set Aunt Lucy off to her eternal rest in peace. But then, peace is an alien concept to everyone here, only Dave craves it and doesn't get it.

The sense that the world is heading towards an apocalypse because its denizens would prefer to wind other people up than make this vale of tears a more bearable place, and are so wrapped up in themselves that they are not able to recognise this fate and are heading towards a precipice as a result, was what you took away from Hotel Poseidon as a viewer. Indeed, so dedicated to making the world a tough experience for others were they that Dave retreats into his own reveries occasionally, though they are difficult to tell the difference between his actual hellish times, the most elaborate being a "what if?" had he settled down with a woman and started a family, something his overbearing mother has nagged any hope of out of him. Really this was a movie for the art directors, it was peerless in its appearance, and the way all the characters were made up as near-clowns to bumble through it added to the general unease, but whether it was enjoyable was another matter. You may sympathise with Dave's desire to return to bed and sleep the rest of his life away. Music by Kreng!

[VOD Release date 3rd January, 2022 on Arrow Player.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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