Hotel Poseidon

The Hotel Poseidon is drowning in filth, misery and decay. The walls and dishes are dirty, and every word can be heard through the thin walls, intrusive and inescapable. A dead fish lies in an aquarium in the lobby, the tank too small for it; it wasn’t meant to be there and it couldn’t survive, and the only parts of the building not saturated and stained are those already on fire.

Awoken by the sounds from the room next door, Dave shuffles through his routine, eggs fried in butter seasoned with cigarette ash, the battering at the door signifying a new arrival who refuses to be deterred when he tells her the hotel is closed, finally assigning her room seven. Then, tragedy, the discovery that his elderly Aunt Lucy whose pension finances the establishment has died, meaning the family and the undertaker must be summoned.

Developed by the Belgian theatre company Abatoir Fermé, Hotel Poseidon is credited as having been written and directed by Stefan Lernous but feels like an extended improvisation, immersive and bewildering as the camera moves through the increasingly crowded rooms, Dave attempting to maintain some form of order as Jacki enthusiastically plans refurbishments and a party.

A carnival of excess with food and music culminating in an autopsy, Dave flits in and out of memory and nightmare, his eccentric and hostile guests threatening violence and recounting the tragedies of their pasts, a visitors’ book out of Fawlty Towers: The Post Apocalypse Dystopian Years but without any but the most bitter laughter.

Starring Tom Vermeir as Dave, Anneke Sluiters as new arrival Nora, Dominique Van Malder as Jacki and Tine Van den Wyngaert as the monstrous undertaker Amy, open-mouthed and red-lipped as though ready to engulf the desiccated body whole, like Vivarium before it Hotel Poseidon is perhaps a microcosm representing a whole, but any meaning is washed away by the currents.

As outrageous as Delicatessen, as impenetrable as Mother! but without allegory or solid architecture to support it, a booking at the Hotel Poseidon is more avant-garde performance art than a film, an experience of absurdist nihilism which never resolves itself into anything comprehensible, the impression given that throughout the creative process indulgence prevailed over focus or restraint.

Having screened at GrimmFest, Hotel Poseidon will be available on Arrow from Monday 3rd January



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