Euro-surrealism at its most mind assailing, as Dave has inherited his father’s run down and weird Hotel Poseidon. A dilapidated hellscape where logic is frequently suspeded that attracts the weirdest of the weird, Dave himself being no exception.
Prepare for the bizarre, everything here from start to finish is weird to the point of being oppressive. The claustophobic camera and the extreme behaviour of the characters can be drawn out long past the point of being uncomfortable to watch. The whole cast is slathered in pale make up and each character follows their own nonsensical dream logic, frequently not even in synch with each other. Everything here is beautifully ugly, from dead fish used as decorations to bizzarre animal behaviour that an actor can fall into with no real reason. A lot of time, attention, and craft has gone into making everything strange as well as gross. It’s quite the achievement in both design and performance. No one and no thing is quite right. Not in how they speak, how they act, or even what they seem to want. It’s not completely random, and is usually just close enough to making sense that it really strikes an uncanny tone which will get under your skin. There’s a tipping point where the relentlessly wierd crosses over into horror, making surrealist art such as here a part of the wider genre.
Nothing overtly scary is going on, but the overall effect has a high chance of resurfacing as a fever dream somewhere down the line for anyone who watches this. You’re going to feel confusion a lot of the time, not so much from things not making sense (as much as there is that present) but because of the extreme juxtaposition being crafted from scene to scene. The levels of surrealism that get reached here are sanity straining, resulting in a challenging but intruiging experience. There’s a bit of gore at times, and it can make for a fun scene, but Hotel Poseidon is all about being weird. There’s a scene where a body being disposed of is almost cheerful, and they don’t hold back on the assorted guts and giblets while going about it. It’s certainly not something you could watch with children even without the occasional nudity, just in case you should break their brains with the overwhelming weirdness.
Right from the imaginative title sequence panning around the main lobby to show the environment before ending on an innovative title built out of these parts, Hotel Poseidon is an outstanding showcase in production design and set dressing. The titular hotel is a character in its own right, suitably disturbing like every other character present. Jam packed with curious details, it’s both disgustingly damp and prone to catch fire at random. There’s a lot of imagination put into how this set was shot, as well as how it was built, and Hotel Poseidon deserves full recognition for this as a cinematic achievement. It isn’t often that this much of an eye for detail for the strange and grotesque gets showcased. Strange caricatures who clash from seemingly all having slightly different scripts they’re following, over the top physical performances that don’t match unfolding events, and the constant threat of the hotel breaking down in some key way to complicate things even further abound.
This won’t be for everyone. It’s one long aggressively weird trip that’s pretty plotless, but fans of this level of surrealism don’t get that much to cater to them and Hotel Poseidon is the right weird trip to satisfy someone hungry for an out there and wild ride. It’s weird, it’s constantly changing, it will go on bizzare tangents to show the audience some strange new imagery; but it has a chaotic energy that won’t leave you any spare time to get bored.
We watched Hotel Poseidon as part of our Grimmfest coverage.
Luke Greensmith is an Editor at the Grimoire of Horror and an active folklorist as well as working in film across a few roles. While this can cover quite a wide range of things, he’s a dedicated horror fan at heart and pretty involved with horror communities both online and local to him. You can find their folklore work on the Ghost Story Guys Podcast, their own LukeLore podcast, and accompanying the artist Wanda Fraser’s Dark Arts series as well as on the Grimoire of Horror itself.