Starring: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas,
Director: Tim Hunter
A couple (Cage and Tunney), struggling to recover after a tragedy, buy a motel and plan to run it while rebuilding their lives. But when Ray finds a strange tunnel that leads to a two way mirror in room 10 and finds out that a death of a young girl occurred in the pool, the lives of the two spiral even further out of control. What have they gotten themselves into?
So when I heard that this one was coming out, I got really excited. Because here’s the thing: the story behind this film is really interesting. It was written way back in 1991, when the writer Jerry Rapp was going through some personal things, as was going on a road trip, and staying in motels, when he had the idea for this film. There were urban legends he was hearing on this trip about motel owners who secretly spied on or watched their guests rooms, and it inspired him. Years later, the film got green lit and Nic Cage was attached, when the story broke about a man who bought a motel in order to voyeuristically watch people staying there. What makes it interesting is this: Though Jerry had not known about this specific motel owner and his story, the man claimed to have witnessed a murder in Room 10, the exact same room that plays a important part in the film. And also Nic Cage had created a character look that he felt would be right for the motel owner, and it turned out that his character looked just like the actual creepy motel owner in the real life story. If you want to know more about this in Jerry’s own words, this article HERE is where you want to go.
The film itself is quite creepy and twisty. It has this wonderful Lynch feel to it, with odd local characters who behave in politely confronting ways or who look unsettling. It’s beautiful shots use block colours. Bright red, green, yellow and blue lighting that all feels like it comes naturally from within the filmic world, and yet gives you this heightened feeling of unease and surrealness. This film definitely enjoys making you feel uncomfortable sometimes, with it’s creepy main character and plot points, but it happily doesn’t go too far.
Nicolas Cage gives a really good performance here, and though I normally love a Nic Cage freak out, there isn’t one in this film. At first, he seems like a likable, normal guy, but there’s something off about him and his choices, as the film unfolds. It’s lovely to see him taking a more restrained dramatic role. Robin Tunney feels real as his wife, struggling with trying to make it work with a man who is increasingly becoming more distant. Perhaps my favourite character in this film is Marc Blucas, who normally plays clean cut good guys, but here turns his friendly charm into something wonderfully sociopathic and genuinely chilling. Friendliness was never more terrifying.
The film is pretty creepy and the voyeurism angle will no doubt put some of you off, and with good reason. There are also some plot holes in this film that are big enough to park a truck in. But I think the film is meant to have a Lynchian feel, like it’s not the plot holes that matter or the ending, but rather the strangeness and sinister atmosphere of small town, middle of nowhere life. It’s interesting on a few levels, from the way that the film’s writer somehow anticipated real events, and the lead actor seemed to channel a real person, to the way it’s filmed and the performances. There’s something to this film, even while it’s not necessarily a game changer.
See It If: you like films with interesting back stories, eerie crime tales, or are a Cage fan. It’s an interesting and uncomfortable film, with a wonderful turn from Blucas. You’ll never stay in a motel again.