Film Review: New Terminal Hotel (2010)
Director: B C Furtney
Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Stephen Geoffreys, Ezra Buzzington, Corey Haim, James Grabowski
Running Time: 93 minutes
Cinema Release Date: TBC (Shown on 2nd October 2010 at GZ International Film Festival)
B C Furtney’s New Terminal Hotel is a horror film that refuses to pander to the generic horror format that too often relies on gratuitous nudity and over the top special effects for its own sake. That isn’t to say that there isn’t sexual gratification or depraved violence, but rather that New Terminal Hotel is first and foremost an exploration of characters. Unlike Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet, where the sole concern of the audience is how the next victim will be diced up in a bloody cesspit of flesh, the audience find themselves drawn to the characters of New Terminal Hotel and their tragic stories.
New Terminal Hotel opens in the thick of the action with the perfectly cast Stephen Geoffreys, as Don Malek, torturing his boss Stanley Glissberg (Colliano). His motives are not apparent until much later on in the film, but sufficed to say it’s an intriguing predicament as the Head of Starlight Studios finds himself paralysed and naked in Malek’s ice filled bathtub. New Terminal Hotel focuses on Malek’s struggles as a once successful screenwriter. His literary agent, Ava Collins (Shepis), is his only real associate as he plays the role of the isolated writer falling to pieces. Ava is self absorbed and only sticks with Malek in the hope that he’ll hand her a fresh script. As the film progresses it becomes clear that Ava isn’t as stable an acquaintance as Malek needs as she contemplates a way to rid herself of rival literary agent Carter Ball (Grabowski).
New Terminal Hotel was made on a budget of just $100,000. Thankfully it hasn’t tried to produce special effects that are unrealistic given the financial constraints, yet it doesn’t skimp on the gore as is apparent as the film climaxes and rather amusingly, early on, when Malek decides to remove one of Glissberg’s kidneys using a “how to” style guide. New Terminal Hotel is set almost exclusively within the confines of the downtrodden backstreet LA hotel. This minimalist approach really adds to the claustrophobic feel of the film, much more so than Devil – a film that should have capitalised on the suffocating nature of the premise! New Terminal Hotel houses other recluses, in addition to Malek, such as his oddball neighbour Spitz (Buzzington), a paraplegic ex-marine with a penchant for hard liquor, prostitutes and sadism. Ezra Buzzington is a brilliant name for Furtney to have brought on board for New Terminal Hotel, and in typical Buzzington style he plays Spitz with all the aggression and unadulterated hatred of a Westboro Baptist champion outside an abortion clinic. As Malek’s association with Spitz develops he finds himself in a rather uncomfortable predicament having witnessed one of Spitz’s more colourful video tapes with a young girl. Malek must decide whether to intervene in typical Malek style or look the other way which just isn’t in his nature. New Terminal Hotel really highlights the “turn a blind eye” culture that is intrinsic to rough neighbourhoods where nobody wants to intrude in anybody else’s business for fear that they may get lynched or found carved up in a black bin bag.
Corey Haim makes a cameo appearance as a fallen British rockstar. This cameo was intended to create light relief in an otherwise dark film. Unfortunately this scene is extremely painful to watch, due almost exclusively to his terrible British accent. So many directors stumble when they cast Americans or Canadians as British characters when it would be so much easier to bring a native Brit into the mix. Perhaps one day directors will learn that this rarely yields positive results.
It would have been so easy for New Terminal Hotel to have become just another tale of a burnt out writer cascading off the rails and falling into the downward spiral of obscurity, yet B C Furtney would not allow for this. New Terminal Hotel is a film with many layers that really gets inside the mind of the viewer and will leave them pondering for weeks to come. Whilst it’s not going to be hailed a classic in the mainstream’s eye this delivers a breath of fresh life to the increasingly formulaic horror genre. Horror films aren’t meant to be pleasant and wrapped up into neat little idealistic packages and B C Furtney knows this. New Terminal Hotel drills into your mind like a rusty cocaine binge dipped in sulphuric acid – it’s not pleasant but you won’t ever forget it.