Rachel (Lisa Wilcox) checks in at a motel in the middle of nowhere that was once an old Mystery Spot. Escaping her past, Rachel meets Nathan (Graham Skipper), a man who is holding movie auditions in his hotel room and is hiding secrets of his own. As more troubled characters make their way to the motel the strange metaphysical powers of the Mystery Spot ruins wreak havoc and throw all of the guests together to figure out what is going on.
‘Mystery Spot’ is a strange little film that is closer to a human drama with supernatural elements than it is a horror. You’d be forgiven for expecting a bloodbath or a psychological thriller based on the poster but director and writer Mel House doesn’t give you either. One of the lengthier films at this year’s Arrow Video FrightFest, ‘Mystery Spot’ struggles to find its tone and the story meanders along. Too much time is spent in Nathan’s room watching auditions that get more painful with every new arrival and not enough time upping the creepy factor.
The motel is at the centre of a police investigation, watched over by Leon (Bobby Simpson II) but that storyline never really goes anywhere. When all of the central characters are thrown together in the final 30 minutes, there’s some attempt to explain what on earth is going on but as the film had been quite the slog up until that point, it doesn’t really land the way it’s supposed to. The story is an attempt to highlight how you can never run away from your past, no matter how hard you try but I wanted it to give me something more. Each of the characters is haunted by something but we never really spend enough time exploring that, instead revelations come in soapy monologues or conversations.
Graham Skipper is the film’s saving grace. Although we never find out too much about Nathan, Skipper’s performance makes the character likeable even when his past is brought into question. Skipper elevates the material and gives the audience a character to identify, and he even manages to sell an unexpected (and unbelievable) tryst he shares with another of the motel’s guests.
‘Mystery Spot’ has some good ideas but for me, it felt like they were lost in translation. When a film doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, it makes it very hard for the audience to get on board. It could easily have been trimmed down to 90 minutes (or less) and not lost anything from its story. Perhaps part of the issue was the expectation I had going into the film, which definitely wasn’t matched by what I saw. Either way, this wasn’t the film I hoped it was going to be.
Cast: Graham Skipper, Lisa Wilcox, Bobby Simpson II, Rachel Logue Director: Mel House Writer: Mel House Certificate: 18 Duration: 111 mins Released by: Upstart Filmworks