ACROSS THE HALL
US, 2009, 93 minutes, Colour.
Mike Vogel, Danny Pino, Brittany Murphy, Brad Greenquist.
Directed by Alex Merkin.
Across the Hall was developed from a short film by Alex Merkin. It is a rather claustrophobic film, most of the action taking place in the reception, elevators, corridors and rooms of a dark hotel. There are some momentary outside scenes of the hotel, its neon sign, the rain.
The film is experimental in its time shifts. It shows particular sequences, goes back to illustrate what happened before, moves in and out of the linear progress.
The premise of the film is straightforward enough: a young man is obsessed with his girlfriend, discovers that she has a relationship with someone else, rings his best friend to come over, produces a gun, abducts an innocent man and ties him up, tries to persuade the friend to kill the man. There are some complications with a mobile phone – and the revelation, which the audience already knows, that the best friend is the person with whom the girl was having an affair. The love shoots the girl in the hotel room.
The film has something of the atmosphere of hotel films like The Shining, with its emphasis on the corridors. It also shows the reception clerk who also does duty on the floors as well as his visits to the basement where staff play cards.
The film is interesting as an exercise in stylistic film-making, claustrophobic atmosphere, obsession and violence.
1. The impact of the film, the expanded short?
2. The hotel, the rain, the neon sign, halls and rooms, reception, the basement? The shades of colour, the angles, the style, the interiors? The score?
3. The non-linear structure, the inserts of various episodes, the time moving forwards and backwards, the consequences for audience response and understanding? The effect of this style?
4. The theme of passionate love, Terry and his infatuation, the past relationship with June, in the hotel, discovery of the relationship, his taking the man and tying him up, ringing Julian, confronting June, shooting her? With Julian, with the man, the arguments? His point of view, the phone, setting Julian up, leaving, with the waiter, disguised, his place at the check-in, choosing the room? Did he know about Julian and the relationship? If so, when?
5. Julian in himself, in the room, the bath, the phone call, the location that he was in, the hotel, saying he would take twenty minutes? Meeting June, talking with her, the relationship? His lying to Terry? The encounter with Anna, going to her room, asking for an alibi, the blood on his clothes? The gun, the man and the argument, the accident? The blood, Anna, his attempt to escape, the arrest? Justice?
6. June, her arrival, the room, relationship with Terry, Julian, her lies, her death?
7. Anna in herself, her meeting with Julian, knowing the reality of the affair? Her being shocked, his proposal for an alibi, her refusal, coming to her room with the blood, her telling the police?
8. The man as receptionist, his dressing for his role – and the irony of Terry dressing at the end? With the other staff, their playing cards, at reception, allotting the rooms to Terry, to June? Talking to Terry, the activity, the message and its dropping on the floor, the set-up in the lift?
9. The overall impact of the film as experimental, as drama?