★★★ out of ★★★★★
This frenetic independent chiller is a fun entry in the hotel-horror subgenre.
Directed by Erik Bloomquist
Director Erik Bloomquist’s Night at the Eagle Inn strikes an interesting balance between recalling tropes of previous horror-hotel films — for example, The Shining, Psycho, and 1408, all of which get humorous call-outs, if not outright homage, here — and attempting an original take on that subgenre. The result is an often humorous slice of scare-fare cinema with an intriguing creepy vibe.
Adult orphaned fraternal twins Spencer (Taylor Turner) and Sarah (Amelia Dudley) are attempting to solve the mysterious death of their birth mother and disappearance of their birth father. Their investigation takes them to the titular place of lodging, which is more than 300 miles away from Philadelphia. This is where the twins were born when their parents stayed there for a night in 1994.
Spencer and Sarah are greeted by overzealous manager (Greg Schweers) who invites them for a tour of the property after having them sign the hotel’s guest book. The seemingly only other person on the property is maintenance man Dean (Beau Minniear), who catches the eye of both twins. Bizarreness happens soon after check-in — viewers need not wait long for the action in this 70-minute, well-paced effort — involving televisions that won’t turn off and other odd occurrences. When Dean asks the twins if they are willing to accept a supernatural reason behind the events, both open-minded Spencer and skeptical Sarah shout out emphatically in the affirmative.
The cast members are all terrific, with Turner dishing out barbs at a fast clip and Dudley grounding the pair with a more serious tone — the two actors play off of each other splendidly — Schweers obviously having a ball being just a hair’s breadth short of chewing scenery, and Minniear diving into his role with relish, as well.
The screenplay by Erik Bloomquist and Carson Bloomquist has plenty of nods to the duo’s inspirations behind Night at the Eagle Inn. Erik helms the proceedings with panache, aided greatly by the fine cinematography of Thomson Nguyen and a wonderfully fitting score from Gyom Amphoux.
Night at the Eagle Inn won the Special Jury Prize at Popcorn Frights, which ran on both the big screen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and online nationwide from August 12–19, 2021. For more information, visit http://www.popcornfrights.com.