Wednesday, October 23, 2019

BHFF: Monument

Add another Haunted Hotel to the docket, Monument's got a hell of one -- it's not so much chockablock with literal ghosts, it's more of a mood, a waylaid meanderment, that infects this strange place. But you'll certainly feel infected by it the longer you stay around, and like all good haunted places it has no intentions of letting you not stay around, least not without getting black gunk under a bit of your skin.

Director Jagoda Szelc stays pretty far back from his extremely large cast of characters for most of Monument's run -- time spent with sorts them out vaguely, more by their actions and deeds than their individual personhoods. What we have plainly is a group of hospitality majors fresh out of class sent to spruce up and spit-scrub a nondescript pile of hallways and rooms -- there's no big personality to this place a la Kubrick's The Shining; its power lay in its endlessness, its darkness, its interiorized rapture set to swallow us slow and python-like. It feels like falling down a tunnel of suburban mall-fronts turned vertiginous, all terrifyingly empty behind and stretching forever.

The one big exception personality-speaking is the big bizarre cement block of the film's title, which sits astride the hotel's parking lot always giving off a sort of low-rent hum -- some people's jobs are to sweep it, or to wrap it in blue plastic and light-beams -- who knows? All that's clear is it gives off the sort of static electricity of a not good place; a weird one, all wrong-headed.

Monument becomes full of that sensation -- it's all vague and threatening, abstract and awful, awful in just the correct way for horror movies to be. It's not even all that interested in its own central mystery -- like Hitchcock's Vertigo it makes pretty clear its basic twist at its midpoint, enough so that the revelation of experiencing this world, this off-kilter place, is entirely to wallow in its spectacularly polluted atmosphere. 

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