Confusing where it tries to be enigmatic, supernatural hotel-horror The Overnight can’t quite grasp the brass ring for which it reaches.
Just as no demonic possession film can match The Exorcist, and no shark movie can match Jaws, no hotel horror film can match The Shining. That’s a given. There are valiant and quite satisfying attempts at each, though, and The Overnight (2022) takes a stab at the latter subgenre. Unfortunately, there’s too much going on and most of it is convoluted, resulting in a head-scratching hour-and-a-half.
Social media personality Jessie (Brittany Clark) and her architect boyfriend David (Zebedee Row) stop at a roadside antique store on the way to their lodging for a romantic vacation. He finds a creepy doll that fascinates him and she encounters an even creepier fan of hers. Alternately arguing and playing games during their drive, the doll causes car problems that force the couple to seek out alternate lodging. That lodging happens to be a hotel filled with weirdness, from odd-acting manager Salim (Rajeev Varma) to nightmarish visions to no shortage of deaths.
The screenplay — Mel Hagopian receives a screenplay credit while Richard Harlost is listed as a writer — leans toward the baffling rather than the satisfyingly mysterious. Rather than go into spoilers, I’ll leave discoveries up to adventurous viewers, but suffice it to say that the car seems to work well enough to get from the scene of the doll-caused accident to the hotel, but is a wash once it arrives.
Codirectors Bobby Francavillo and Kevin Rhoades don’t help sort out the more enigmatic elements much, but when you have ghosts, at least one demonic presence, and some nefarious humans all cooped up in the same building, it might be a lot to ask of anyone at the helm of this screenplay. Most of the cast members are Acting with a capital A, which doesn’t help matters any, either. The film does have solid technical aspects and a looming sense of dread going for it, though.
Hotel-horror completists and supernatural-shocker enthusiasts may want to see what’s behind the doors of this lodging. The Overnight tries to tackle a great deal, and you can’t fault anyone involved for trying to be ambitious.
Review by Joseph Perry
Vertical Entertainment presents The Overnight, debuting in theaters and on VOD/Digital on June 3, 2022.