Get ready for a thriller that feels like high school level writing and performances, with none of the laughable parts.
Synopsis: Former prostitute Donna turned her brothel into a legitimate bed and breakfast, following the birth of her cognitively deficit son Jimmy. Trouble comes knocking when ex-con Cam arrives to collect what he’s been hiding there for the past two decades. As it turns out, he’s not the only one looking for it. In a brutal fight for survival, Donna must protect Jimmy and her home from a crooked cop and a thug. (Kandoo Releasing)
Starring: Emmanuelle Chriqui, Sam Trammell, and JR Bourne
Writers: Nick Chakwin and David Guglielmo
Directors: Nick Chakwin and David Guglielmo
Running Time: 80mins
From the production company behind the Academy Award-nominated documentary 13th, comes Hospitality, a one-location thriller that looks like it was shot on a 2009 Flip Camera. Hospitality reads like a mad libs thriller with all of the details waiting to be filled out later. Vague thriller keywords like “hidden money”, “prostitute”, and “crooked cop” fill this direct to VOD prize of epic proportions, as if every possible bro-thriller idea could be shoved unoriginally into one location in eighty minutes. It’s almost interesting to watch them try.
Hospitality opens with a flash forward. Almost immediately, a body is being dragged across the screen, and a terribly jagged guitar tone sets the mood. It provokes your curiosity, but as these actors claw their way through its ham-fisted and awkward script, you immediately sense that the film won’t be much at all. Take the first scene, where a cop comes up to our setting, the Hospitality Bed and Breakfast, and after a second of interaction, slaps our lead character Donna (Chriqui). It’s strange and inappropriate, uncomfortable for no real narrative purpose, but then awkwardly perpetuated by the cop telling her that they’re going to rewind and take that interaction from the top. The way Sheriff Hirsch (Bourne) makes his way through this interaction is some of the oddest overacting this year.
Along with this, another noticeable issue is the score and soundtrack. It’s incredibly confusing, opening with big, crunching hard rock, which sounds like it took three Google searches to find. Luckily, Hospitality does have a more laughable needle drop over a sex scene. Soft and compassionate music plays over one of the most unsexy scenes of the year. Two lovers reunite for the first time, and they get this quiet, “pretty” music that attempts to find a connection that the two once had, because the script isn’t even looking for one. But the score only gets worse, shifting from those guitar tracks, to a half-baked electronica background the narrative gets laughably darker.
To give this film a little credit, you can tell certain actors were trying. Jim Beaver who plays The Boss (yes, that’s the character name) does a pretty good job chewing scenery once he arrives, and Chriqui has moments of solid work. When she’s talking to her son, played by Conner McVicker, she has some pretty solid emotion resonance.
This film exists as if blandness was a honor, a badge to be worn. There’s no details in this film. It’s a series of vague events, poor filmmaking and mediocre acting. With cinematography that is only slightly better than porn, and writing that is heavy-handed and obvious, Hospitality becomes a plain, boring, and ultimately insulting experience.
*Hospitality will open in select theatres and on VOD starting December 7th*
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