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Hotel 2004 ***

 

Writer/director Jessica Hausner scored an art-house hit with Lourdes in 2009, but her 2004 horror film Hotel is an unrecognized exercise in mystery and tension that lands somewhere between David Lynch and The Shining. Irene (Franzisca Weisz) gets a job at a remote hotel in the Austrian Alps, and is disturbed to hear a local legend of a forest witch, with a puppet of the witch kept in a glass display in the lobby. Irene goes about her duties, cleaning swimming and taking advantage of the voluminous space, but there’s a growing feeling of unease as she traverses the dark corridors…Hausner creates an above-average exercise in suspense with hotel, which plays on our fears of communal spaces and, while remaining ambiguous, never steps into the realm of special effects or rubber monsters. Fans of Picnic at Hanging Rock will understand the sub-genre; not much happens, but the way it doesn’t happen is nerve-shredding.

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