Synopsis: A honeymooning couple gets stranded at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and learns that there is more to fear than just cabin fever.
Stars: Brendan Hines, Tatjana Marjanovic, Kevin Daniels, Ola Kaminska, Jey Reynolds
Director: Chris Beyrooty and Connor Martin
Running Length: 89 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: While it’s likely a bit too soon to look for any polished silver lining in the dark rain cloud that has been the ongoing pandemic hanging over the globe for over a year and a half, there have been a few glints of good fortune where indie filmmaking is concerned. Previously, movies made on a small scale with a handful of actors and a tiny budget were either celebrated for their economy in production or shunned for lack of higher-end techniques. Now, it’s that very sparse nature that is becoming a significant benefit to a number of genre films from the wanderlust drama (Ride the Eagle) to horror films such as Shelter in Place, a haunted hotel new release coming to your at-home VOD this week.
Occasionally, I’ll take a bird’s eye view of a movie like Shelter in Place and wonder if I’d have reviewed it any differently if the climate we were in had been different. If this were a regular early fall time for movies, could an above average bit of terror like Shelter in Place rise over the noise to gain any traction over louder titles with deeper pockets for marketing? Probably not…however that’s not to say the movie written and directed by Chris Beyrooty and Connor Martin is one to lose track of entirely. As October is drawing near and the potential for more isolation of the winter months approaches, you may find yourself looking for exactly the kind of nerve-jangling frights Beyrooty and Martin have concocted.
With shelter in place orders being passed just as newly married couple John and Sara Burke arrived in the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, there isn’t much for the honeymooners to do but wait it out until they can get home. Thankfully, aside from a front desk clerk/concierge (Kevin Daniels, managing to never reveal all his cards at the same time – keeping you on your toes as to whose side he’s on) and a housekeeper/cook (Ola Kaminska, riding a nice wave of benevolent and malevolent) they appear to have the place all to themselves. As long as they are in their room by the time the mandatory lights out in the early evening, they can roam as they please. So while influencer Sara (the adroit Tatjana Marjanovic, Great White, who gets more chance to impress here) works on her social media game, currently unemployed John (Brendan Hines, who walks, talks, looks, and acts like a schmuck but is relatable all the same, go figure) wiles away the day doing a whole lot of nothing hoping his new bride will strike it big and make enough for both of them to live off of.
Are they really alone though? Poking around the front desk register one day, Sara finds their check-in information as well as that of another guest…even though they were led to believe no one else was staying there. Convinced it was a misunderstanding by the concierge, Sara writes it off as an error of the pandemic but when the maid begins to display odd behavior and she starts seeing ghostly figures hiding in the shadows, she starts to believe rumors of the hotel’s hauntings might be less fictional than she originally imagined. The more Sara learns, the further John pulls away right when they should be working together to find out who (or what) might be lurking within the not-quite-empty rooms of the hotel.
There’s a lot of standard-issue developments that happen in Shelter in Place, yet the film winds up quite entertaining due to the strength of the performances and the restraint shown by the writers/directors. While we’re often tipped off to what’s happening and are able to piece things together long before Sara or John do, it strangely doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of watching the couple get put through the psychological wringer as distorted visions blur the lines of reality in such a way that they can’t tell what is authentic and what is fake. It’s not perfect, far from it, but considering the resources and how bargain basement it could have gone, it’s worth making time for an evening to Shelter in Place.
The horror film SHELTER IN PLACE will be available on VOD and Digital September 14, 2021.
Pre-order Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/shelter-in-place/id1580216980