By David Dent
‘Hall’ feels like the ultimate concept movie: how can you make a horror feature whose setting is almost entirely restricted to a hotel corridor?
Naomi (Yumiko Shaku), a heavily pregnant woman, has checked into a hotel after leaving her husband back in Vietnam; a brave journey at the best of times, more so because of a flu epidemic spreading through the US.
In the same hotel Val (Carolina Bartczak), her husband Branden (Mark Gibsen) and their 8 year old daughter Kelly (Bailey Thain) are also holed up. There is an undercurrent of domestic discord between Kelly’s parents which materialises into a pattern of abusive behaviour towards Val. We learn from a phone call with her mother that, unlike Naomi who has already made the break, Val is planning to take Kelly and leave her husband. Finding bruises on her daughter’s body seals the deal, but as she goes to leave Branden, who is showing symptoms of infection which sure don’t look like flu, he attacks her, biting her ankle.
Naomi is also showing advanced signs of infection, and leaves her room for help, crawling along the hotel’s corridor past other residents and staff who have already succumbed. Val and Kelly must try to make their escape from a hotel besieged with infection.
Filmed in the Santa Clarita area and completed during lockdown, ‘Hall’ is slow (as another critic has mentioned, it’s like ‘Rec’ at 10% of the speed). Very little happens in the movie but Giannini creates a real sense of dread in such a limited setup. Here the insidious contagion of abuse is linked to the spread of the virus and the Ballardian payoff – a group of wealthy donors to a medical charity are partying on the ground floor with no concept of what is unfolding on the upper levels of the hotel – makes the politics of the film clear. It’s an intriguing piece that feels a little unfinished but I rather liked its strangeness.
Hall is available on UK Digital Download and On Demand now.