HALL *** Canada 2020 Dir: Francesco Giannini. 80 mins
“This place is sick… and now so are you my love”
With urgent news of a “flu” epidemic sweeping the country a pregnant Japanese woman (Yumiko Shaku) who is fleeing her country and opressive husband checks into a hotel and heads up to her room on the third floor. At the same time a couple (Carolina Bartczak & Mark Gibson) with their young daughter (Bailey Thain) also arrive and go up to the third floor. It’s not all happy families here though and it soon becomes apparent that the husband has violent tendencies. You would think the two ladies in this scenario could help each other out. That could very well have been the case if it were not for a mysterious stranger ( Julian Richings) who has released a deadly pathogen on the third floor of the hotel. As the hotel guests begin a long, slow, painful change from life to death to something else altogether only the mother and her daughter make it off floor 3 to the charity gala below.
Starting off from the beginning of the infection and working its way back and forth from that moment this is not the action packed infection movie you may think it would be from the opening titles. However it is well thought out and shows some great close ups and the painful process involved with this infection. The story at the forefront here is more of domestic abuse and family guilt tripping then anything else but with the underlying threat of something even more sinister in the form of the pathogen which is being dumbed down and reported as this flu epidemic. After some great starting scenes this unfortunately slows down to a snails pace at times and you find yourself willing all the characters to fall ill with the infection just to put them out of their misery. The infected are the best part of this, you get to see quite a lot of them and the ordeal they have as they change, it really does look excruciatingly painful and they look grotesque with throbbing veins, partial paralysis and bulging eyes. They are not your usual fast and ferocious types either in fact you only see one of them standing up. They prefer to groan and drag themselves across the floor. This annoyingly does not help with pacing issue though. It is well acted from the small cast with some very real characters. It is well shot and takes place almost entirely on one floor of the hotel, conveying a tense atmosphere at times with a great JAWS style opening score and music courtesy of Ritual Howls. The theme is very fitting to the current world situation and that is brought further home towards the end and beyond the end credits as we are urged to be vigilant and the ever patronising line “with all of your help we will be able to fight this”.
Review by Sarah Budd