Irene is hired as a receptionist in an isolated, virtually inaccessible hotel in the Austrian Alps. The humourless proprietor is fanatically obsessed with cleanliness and order. The other employees are equally odd, remote, reserved and strangely reticent. She is replacing Eva, a girl who has disappeared without a trace. Irene learns that the area has a reputation as a place where people go missing, including a party of hikers who were never seen again. She feels isolated. At night, she swims in the pool and wanders the empty corridors. When she meets a young man called Erik, it’s hard to tell whether he can be trusted. All the time, the surrounding woods appear to be calling her, issuing an invitation to enter their dark shadows. Hotel, the second feature of Austrian director Jessica Hausner (Lovely Rita) is a disturbing, psychological chiller reminiscent of the work of Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and even the Brothers Grimm. Hausner combines supernatural elements from fairy tales and German mythology in this atmospheric, otherworldly tale of human fear and curiosity. The superb cinematography is complimented by an effective sound design that animates the hotel with an eerie, breathing presence. Franziska Weisz (Ulrich Seidl’s Dog Days) gives a strong performance as the emotionally restrained Irene.

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