Friday, May 22, 2020

Review: Acacia Motel

Release date: May 22, 2020
Running time: 88 minutes
Starring: JC Santos, Jan Bijvoet, Nicholas Saputra

Acacia Motel, the American release title of the Filipino film Motel Acacia, follows a young Fillipino man JC (Santos) and his father (Bijvoet) who are owners of Motel Acacia.  But this isn't just not regular motel; this motel provides shelter to illegal immigrants on behalf of the government in a remote wilderness location.  Father is raising JC to become like himself, a tyrant who is motivated to exterminate the immigrants.  But the pair soon realize that this place is also the home of an ancient, dark spirit. With the surrounding elements and with scarce supplies this puts everyone in survival mode and JC in a predicament that he could of never imagine.

From the first, eyebrow raising act I was sure this was going to be one gory adventure.  But after the initial exciting act, the film takes its time to develop the story and drop small hints to help you figure out what is going on.  What I thought would be more of a Hostel-type film turned into a more atmospheric horror experience.  The first demonic scene shows this transition; it is an unsettling scene that is complimented by chilling sounds and score. And from this moment on, everything intensifies. There is a sprinkle of comedy but the drama and horror escalates the longer the film goes.  

This film is in Tagalog with a Filipino cast, which I really loved to see.  I enjoy seeing foreign films for new ideas and to experience different cultures, and this film delivered in that respect.  And although I was overall entertained by this film, there was some factors I found problematic.  With many genres but mainly horror, the human element is very important and I felt the reactions to situations felt very unnatural that couldn't be overlooked even with solid acting performances.  And the plot and its message didn't land for me.  The resolution and direction of the plot left me more confused and even questioning if there was more to come in the film.  Maybe that was by design and they were leaving it open for a sequel (which is common in horror), but for me it felt unfulfilling.  I would of love a little more about the origin and mission of the ancient spirit but there just wasn't enough development there.

Acacia Motel is a refreshing horror film, with dramatic and chilling horror elements that escalate throughout your stay in this twisted motel.  

Rent it.

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