Movie Review: MOTEL MOTEL (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERMOTEL MOTEL, 20min., Belgium, Crime/Mystery
Directed by Ellen J. Babeliowsky

When Hjalmar inspects his room in an old, worn-out motel, he discovers a severed ear in the deep-pile carpet. During his search for the origin of the ear, he stumbles from one strange occurrence into the next. The mystery of the ear ultimately gets him into a surreal situation, of which he is both the victim and the spectator.

Played at the October 2016 ACTION/CRIME Short Film Festival

Review by Kierston Drier

Rich in symbology and complex layering, Motel Motel this crime mystery film by Belgian director Ellen J. Babeliowsky. It follows our hero, Hjalmar, finds himself sharing an old motel room with an unpleasant partner- a severed human ear. This ear disturbs him, erodes him, and ultimately drives him to act by reaching the motel’s owner to change his room. Curiously, no one believes his story- that his room is occupied by a human ear. Yet his consciousness becomes plagued with eerie visions, hallucinations and jarring revelations that upset and torment him. His actions become increasingly desperate and disorganized as he falls into a supernatural state of reality while ambling through the motel. Whether his experience are the result of some supernatural power, some fragmenting sense of reality, or the delusions of a mad man, the audience is left to wonder what came first- the madness or the mayhem?

This film makes nods to several well established cult classics, such as Pulp Fiction to name one of many. The unreliable narrator, the highly subjective non-lateral plot and the avant-garde supernatural air, make the film a cultural cinematic work of art. Think Wes Anderson, if Wes Anderson was dark and perturbed and less whimsical.

Undoubtedly beautiful, with spectacular imagery and stunning composition, this film has sumptuous tones and high production value. The story may be too allegorical and metaphorical for a viewer looking for a conventional short. However, a viewer will be engaged with the idea of a hero, slowly losing his mind, fighting a battle only they seem to understand. And the supernatural twist at the end will tie together the details strung throughout the piece. A deep, dark, thought provoking film chronically the descent into madness…or maybe, something more.

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