Scene 61: At the café’, Bob has been joined by Detective Tony who is apparently just there coincidentally to pick up his usual coffee. Anyway, Bob is in place to hear another detective stop Tony to tell him that they’ve just caught another murder at the infamous Lyndora. Apparently an electrical worker didn’t show up for work and it was so unusual that somebody dropped in on him in his apartment only to find him dead with a stab wound to the throat.
[So wait… he has an apartment at the Lyndora?? The place that, except for the attached bar, has been closed for 50 years… or only the top floors have been closed for 50 years… depending on who is stating its history when?? Oh, dear this script is starting to feel like an “oh, crap… not long enough; we need to adlib some developments fellas that will lead to our already filmed conclusion to stretch this out a bit more. Or is Detective Red Goatee just calling it a “Lyndora Murder” because the guy worked at the hotel - maybe as the general handyman? And are they implying that this is the guy that Grace stabbed during her nightmare… or are we to believe that Katy-Liz did it while Pat was upstairs helping the dazed and possessed Grace? ]
Commentary: Yeah, here is about where my general opinion of the movie starts to take hits as the script is becoming too convoluted with no clear answers as to what we should know, and what we’ve heard/seen but isn’t actually the true story… and it’s not being presented in a “keep the audience wondering with ambiguousness” way but rather in a “the film maker’s weren’t keeping the details of their own story clear in their minds during filming” sort of way that is actively irritating me.
Scene 62: Bob interrupts just as Detective Red Goatee is about to head over to the murder place to bring up Grace’s nutty script that she mailed him to Patrone. Now more worried than ever that Grace has up and lost her shit.
Bob tells them that nobody has been able to speak to Grace in days and now he just tried Dean who was supposed to check in on her, and he isn’t answering. Bob has a feeling that something is very wrong and he’s scared for Grace.
[WAIT. Does that mean that Father Pat has been gone for days? Is this another “some time later” or does Bob just not know about Father Pat right now and is just assuming that nobody’s been in contact with Grace? Either way actually works and I guess it isn’t that big a deal, if only they’d stopped with the entire “some undetermined time later”-ness throughout the whole script.]
Detective Red Goatee actually mentions now that he’s spoken to Grace [exactly why or how isn’t at all clarified] and she’s fine, in fact she sounded excited on the phone [uh, I guess excited in a good way… like accomplishment-excited?] and Tony offers a “see, she’s fine”.
But as Tony is glancing through the writing that Bob has found to be bizarre enough to worry, Grace’s voice echo-memories to him about her nightmare regarding killing a “Jim” with a stab to the throat. He asks Red Goatee who the victim was again and it turns out James Herring is their vic. Tony tells Red Goatee to get to the crime scene -- he has to make a stop at the Lyndora.
[Okay. So, James wasn’t killed at the Lyndora, nor does he live there. He - I guess - was a regular electrical guy who worked exclusively at the Lyndora on staff so his murder is considered a part of the Lyndora infamous reputation by the detectives? Okay. Sure. That makes sense, if we ignore how unlikely it is for Mattie to be paying an electrician for a full time salaried position, rather than call one as needed.]
Tony invites Bob go join him as they drop in to check on Grace.
Scene 63: Back at the Lyndora, Helga has joined Father Pat. They discuss how he’s found Grace. Father Pat offers that he saw this very type of thing happen with Mattie’s other daughter… WAIT, WHAT!?!?
[OMG. Are you actually trying to introduce an entire other past possession/mind screw on a child of Mattie’s without explaining why she’d then allow ANYONE to EVER enter the upstairs again? And without having Mattie actually flip the fuck out when her remaining daughter is caught multiple times upstairs and playing with a Ouija board with the woman who is reporting strange occurrences to everyone she meets?!
Is that what you’re fucking doing right now, this late in the game!?!?]
Father Pat mentions Mattie’s heretofore unmentioned other daughter wasn’t as fortunate as Grace [uh, fortunate in that Grace is still alive - or that Grace has them to help bring her out of whatever is happening and the ‘other nameless daughter’ didn’t - and could the random teen girl we saw in one scene and then had mentioned once by Grace have been her - or what exactly happened to Mattie’s OTHER FREAKIN’ DAUGHTER tied to this hotel??] and Helga tells him that something has put her in this state.
Helga and Pat split up to do a room to room search, hoping to recognize what Grace has been in contact with that put her into her current unresponsive rocking-motion trance state.
Commentary: OH, you script, YOU!
All of the great parts of this story are happening off screen! And we’re only hearing about it at really random moments as afterthoughts. I’m just so… I’m actually now understanding the score on IMDB… please retract my earlier opinion. This is now actively pissing me off. All of these random incidents being tossed around are the exact things that should’ve been shown in flashback storytelling rather than all of the trips to the bar to chat unproductively that Grace has been doing!
Scene 64: At home, Dean goes into his and Grace’s bedroom to find random sheets of her manuscript lying across the foot of the bed. They have bloody fingerprints on them.
As Dean is trying to wrestle with what all of this is, and perusing what Grace has typed up, the door behind him squeaks partially open and then closed again. He doesn’t notice.
He suddenly jerks in shock and looks down to find a knife has been jabbed through him. He reaches out wonderingly at the knife point jutting from his chest and them collapses forward to the floor.
We don’t see who killed him: A ghost, Grace, Katy, or the currently unaccounted for Eva who could’ve been possessed off-screen [since that is the place where most of our interesting developments are taking place].
Scene 65: Back at the Lyndora, Father Pat returns from his search to find Grace’s room now empty with no indication where she’s gone. It’s his turn to read Grace’s latest missive and to be shocked and frightened by what this could mean.
Before he can do anything, like make a phone call to the police [one would hope] he confronted by a hand holding a large butcher’s knife already covered in grue. It leads to what you’d expect as Father Pat is now murdered.
He falls back into a sitting position while shaking his head in disbelief but he’s unable to speak to give us his killer’s name.
Scene 66: Next up is the interloper, Helga. She’s trying to wrestle her way into a drawer when POV Cam approaches. She takes a clean butcher’s knife to the gut [making me think this was edited out of order and she should’ve died just before Father Pat]. She hocks up a mouthful of blood at the camera before everything goes to black.
Commentary: Okay, I will admit that I was surprised they had the old woman do the hock up blood trick. Usually that would be reserved for one of the 20-something high school teens… though I guess the only one that would qualify is Katy, who is possessed right now and possibly our killer and Eva who is missing and possibly our killer].
So, yeah… I’m offering a cool point for having the older actress be the one to dramatically cough up a mouthful of blood and power spit it at the camera lens.
Scene 67: Out on the staircase, Grace is walking up in more heavy makeup and with a dazed and exhausted look on her face. She hears her daughter calling her name from upstairs.
When she reaches part way up, she calls for Eva… sounding dazed. She asks her daughter why she’s there and Eva says she was worried with nobody hearing from her in the last few days. As Eva notices Grace isn’t looking at all well, Large Bearded Attacker walks out of the room Eva just left and stands behind her.
He laughs as he grabs Eva and yanks her back into the room. Grace/(Liz?) panics and races up the stairs shouting for Eva to run. Though since she’s shouting Eva’s correct name, I’m assuming that Grace has snapped out of her trance on seeing her daughter endangered.
It’s still up in the air whether Liz, Hanging Man or Large Bearded Attacker has used her to kill Father Pat and Helga the Psychic.
Scene 68: Downstairs, Tony and Bob arrive and warily start their way up the steps.
Detective Patrone calls for Grace several times but receives no reply. Bob is told to stay put while Tony checks for Grace. Since he’s holding tightly to the writings that Bob shared with him at the café, he’s pretty clear that both of them believe that Grace may be over the edge and dangerous.
Our Detective creeps through the floor Grace was standing on. POV CAM follows his progress from behind various objects. In Grace’s borrowed room, he finds Father Pat still sitting with a knife out of his chest.
He stands still in shock for much too long so that Bob can, again as is his habit apparently, hand-on-the-back him while sneaking up on him silently [despite everyone’s else footsteps being loudly clear because of the hardwood floors --- Bob moonlights as a Ninja, y’know], causing Tony to lose about 10 years of his life instantly.
Tony tries to block Bob’s line of sight of Father Pat’s fate, but he insists that he needs to know what is going on. Bob is crushed [or uh, slightly befuddled?] with guilt for bringing Grace to this sealed up place to begin with [even though we’ve also heard that only the top floors were sealed up also].
A weird, echoey scream is then heard, drawing their attention from Father Pat. Bob is then ordered to really-this-time stay in the room with Dead Pat, while Detective goes to find Grace with his gun drawn. Neither think to call for help from the rest of the department. Detective Red Goatee doesn’t think that Tony seems to be running an awfully long time at getting to their active crime scene enough to call him.
Scene 69: Upstairs Large Bearded Attacker has Eva pinned to the floor with her mouth covered. He’s getting ready to give her a knife, possibly explaining who has killed Pat, Dean and Helga or some combination thereof.
From behind him, Grace rallies with a found shovel to the back of spirit guy’s head, which knocks him out… apparently. She picks up the knife and looks a bit demented if you ask me, and you did because you care what I think, and starts viciously stabbing at Large Bearded Attacker telling him that she has him now and calling him a sonavabitch.
This is how Detective Patrone finds her when he holds her at gunpoint. Grace is ordered to step away, but she’s in shock and looking less like she’s in her power moment than that she is in a state of deep shock.
Grace tells Tony that this is the man who attacked her earlier and now has attacked her utterly silent daughter. She’s ordered to step away again at gunpoint. Grace tells him it’s the Shadow Man, but when Tony orders her to look at what she’s done, she finds that she’s straddling Eva.
Yes, she’s knifed her daughter to death.
Grace falls over her daughter and sobs.
Commentary: Although I guessed at what was happening once Grace started straddling her “shadow man/Large Bearded Attacker”, I still found a chill when Tony orders her to look at what she’s done and we see Eva with blood splashing her face and her eyes wide open. This part was well handled, though I think Grace really needed a much bigger reaction or a much smaller one: What I mean, is that her simply draping herself over her daughter and weeping was unsatisfying as the downer ending for her. I wanted her to either scream in complete horror, the kind of throat tearing, soul-ripping scream that would really sell the realization of her getting it. Or. She could’ve gone the opposite way and had a completely quiet, blank look on her face… maybe even insisting that it IS the ‘shadow man’ to reveal that her mind has gone.
Either extreme would’ve worked for me, but this moment really needed a much more powerful reaction. I’m also bugged by Dean’s death in this scenario because I cannot see how Grace could’ve possibly gotten out of the hotel and to her house to murder him and then gotten back to take out Pat, Helga and Eva. It doesn’t work for me.
What does work for me though, is Large Bearded Attacker possessing Grace long enough to murder Pat, Helga and Eva but for Liz to have murdered Dean using the now permanently possessed Katy. That would really work for this dark ending.
Scene 70: Sometime later, but surely not much, police tape is cordoning off the Lyndora.
Grace is led out in cuffs, seemingly not understanding exactly what has happened to her but knowing enough to understand her daughter’s death. The car pulls away with Grace going to prison for multiple homicide.
Scene 71: We rejoin Liz’s room with the hole in the wall where a heavily breathing creeper spies inside. When “Liz” reveals herself at the hole and stares at whomever is watching her, it’s Katy’s face we see coldly staring back.
Commentary: Again, this scene feels incomplete to me. We really should’ve had a scene of post possession Katy interacting with Mattie… you know… her mother. It would’ve/should’ve involved Mattie wondering if her daughter is feeling alright, or wondering what she’s done to her face with all of that make up and wondering where she’d even gotten it. Katy would’ve said something double-entendre-ish to show that she could fake Katy to her mother, even imperfectly while she’s really Liz wearing her daughter’s body.
I do like the implication though that Katy-Liz is now going to relive Liz’ life, including possibly hooking and murdering for either Large Bearded Attacker or Hanging Man’s pleasures.
The Good: For the most part, the acting was well done by most of our cast, if a bit uneven. I'm going to give a nod to Natalie Bail, who had a lot to carry and to Caitlyn O'Connor, Catrina Rogers and Alan Quinn, Jr and Winters Barbra who I wish had been utilized more as the bar/hotel owner/manager.
I liked most of the scoring for the film and the way that music was used.
I really enjoyed the scenes later that hint that Grace isn't the type of nice protaganist that we started out seeing. Her scenes with Dean and her manipulation of Katy were both disturbing and wonderful in filling in some blanks about the sort of person Grace really is underneath, which gives some unvoiced reasoning as to why she might be so suseptible to manipulation herself and why she may become so obsessed in her project that she can't stay away from the hotel, even after she's terrorized.
I did enjoy the cast being whittled down in the last minutes of the film as they're killed off one by one in a slaughter, and the final murder of Eva did get to me, even though I knew it was coming by the way the scene was filmed to avoid showing Grace's target and the Detective's actions. It still worked for me.
I also enjoyed the really dark and downer ending for Grace and unexpectedly for Katy and the entirely unsuspecting Mattie.
The Bad: The horribly done telegraphed jump scares of Bob reaching for somebody's shoulder to startle them is irritating and it's done more than once to put a bit of energy into a lagging pace but it's not helping the audience any. And you'd think that Bob would scare the wrong person this way and get clobbered in the face as a moment of comedy relief somewhere along the line, but no... it was being used completely straight.
The set is a real problem. There is nothing about where this was filmed to suggest that this building/floor has been sitting vacant and abandoned for 50 years. And there isn't any in-movie throwaway line to explain why Mattie would be constantly cleaning and repairing a sealed up section off of her bar that she's apparently never even considered using.
The entire back story for our various ghost hauntings are confused, conflicting or completely absence from any explanation attempt throughout the entire film. And some of the revelations that come later but should be known to the people present make their earlier reactions to things Grace has said or done not make sense. I'm talking specifically about the very late revelation that Mattie had a daughter who apparently came to an undisclosed bad end because of her involvement in playing up in the hotel area, which renders a lot of Mattie's interactions with Grace completely bizarre looking back on it. Why it's as if Mattie entirely forgot that she had a second daughter.
There is also a general problem with events not having the logical impact on characters [like Father Pat being terrorized into being stuck in a closet frozen, which nevertheless doesn't indicate to anyone to leave the hotel the hell alone] when it should and only seems to dawn on them to be deathly afraid of the haunted place when they're about to get killed anyway. Inconveniently belated sense seems to run rampant in WhereverTown.
A lot is made of Grace's final unhinged script that she sends to Bob via mail, but nobody ever tells us and the camera never shows us what is on the pages that everyone finds as evidence that Grace has lost her mind. This is really annoying. If it means enough to the characters to convince them that Grace has gone 'round the bend, then how in hell can the audience be given a simple "just assume it's awful, 'k, thanx". That doesn't work.
Other Thoughts: I'm going to put the camera work here. There is much of the shots that I really liked, but there are others where things are either cockeyed for no reason, or the frame is too cramped or the camera angle is trying but failing to acheive a clear goal that is being undermined by other factors. It's a mixed bag, but more positive than not, I think.
Also here, I'm going to put continuity and what I mean by this isn't problems from shot to shot but issues with the timeline of events as we're experiencing them. Scenes seem to switch on a dime and we're suddenly apparently at another day without any smooth transitioning. We only figure this out because our actors have changed their clothes or because dialog has indicated that time has passed and its done over and over, which starts to wear thin.
Not exactly bad, but odd is the number of folks who appear and disappear from Grace's involvement without any sort of logical story reason. There are too many characters that pop in for a few lines of dialog and then are completely forgotten about again.
There is a real problem with both Dean and Eva when it comes to the amount of screen time each has in comparison with their importance in Grace's life. They spend entirely too long off camera when they should be the primary people to start worrying earlier about Grace when she seems to be wigging out on them. It's weird too, because both actors work well with Natalie, so it's hard to understand why Grace's homelife wasn't more integral to the plot.
This isn't a bad plot, after all it's basically The Shining-lite (really lite) but there are just some things that are bothersome in the beginning and don't make sense: I'm thinking especially about Grace's first night when the hauntings begin freakin' immediately. Now, Grace thinks that Liz is a real person performing sexual tricks for money but NOBODY takes this seriously, despite Grace being there alone and vulnerable all night - even when the bar is closed. You'd think somebody would be worried about her staying there with criminal activity taking place just down the hall by complete strangers who apparently are crashing the place. You'd think that Bob would run to his friend Mattie to warn her since the bar and its till is accessible from the hotel where squatters are crashing. Instead it's treated like nobody's business. It's also just not believable that Grace wouldn't be taking things far more seriously after getting threatened the first time around and get the hell out of there/run to Mattie... again... to tell her that she has dangerous squatters staying in her building after hours.
The number of times that someone describes Katy as "the limited girl" goes from irritating to kinda funny. OKAY - We understand!
Grace being influenced/possessed/entranced by the spirits of the hotel, whichever one or more, is really haphazard. Natalie does well with the material but it's always unclear who is dominating her, sometimes why they are, and it's never explained why she suddenly comes to her senses and STILL WON'T LEAVE.
The Score: *Sigh*. I wanted to like this film so much more than I can. All of the ideas are a bit threadbare but there are very good reasons why the same elements show up in stories over and over... they work. The ideas behind the story are like that, but the production itself is just too disorganized to properly use them and it undermines the hard work put into the film, alas.
This is really an issue in the last quarter of the film when we're just as confused about which spirits are doing what and why as we've been through the whole preceding film. The ghosts' history and what exactly happened in the Lyndora that brought on these hauntings is such a muddled mess and the lack of past!scenes with proper attire for our ghosts to live out the horrors that have damned them to haunts is a real problem. I didn't understand the low IMDB score until I was well into the film and nearing the conclusion, but I can see now why its not judged better: There are just too many problems and some of them are severe, especially in keeping track of the Lyndora's history. If you're the patient sort, give it a watch but I can only give it a...
2.50 out of 5 stars
Next Up: It's a Buffyverse-triple, we'll start with Angel & Faith, Season 2, Issue 15
Followed by BTVS, Season 10, Issue 16
And wrapping up with BTVS, Season 3's "Amends"