Directed by Francesco Giannini.
Written by Francesco Giannini, Derrick Adams, Adam Kolodny.
Starring Julian Richings, Carolina Bartczak, Mark Gibson, Vlasta Vrana, Yumiko Shaku, Dawn Ford, Val Mervis, Kathleen Fee, Christopher James Giannini, Bailey Thain, Kim Richardson, Marc Natoli, Genti Bejko
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A deadly airborne virus spreads through a single floor of a hotel as the guests unaffected by it attempt to make their way through a gauntlet of horrors to escape. HALL focuses on a number of guests affected by the virus in different ways; a pregnant woman Naomi (Yumiko Shaku) flees a controlling husband in Japan to America to protect her child, an exhausted wife Val (Carolina Bartczak) attempts to escape her abusive husband with her daughter Kelly (Bailey Thain), and a mysterious man in black (Julian Richings) has dubious ties to the origin of this deadly virus.
HALL is an ambitious film that tells a big story on a small stage. Most of the action takes place within a single hallway before, during, and after the virus has spread. This makes for a film that feels as if it would make an awesome stage play, as its singular locale really does lend to a lot of the tension and horror going on.
The film is wonderfully acted by all involved. Shaku is likable as Naomi, and you really are rooting for her to make it through this ordeal given the way her struggle was realized. But it’s the central dilemma of Val (Bartczak) and her daughter Kelly (Thain) that is the most compelling. In very few scenes, the film offers up a broad story of abuse that resonates just as deadly as the virus itself. Both Bartczak and the Carole-Ann-looking Thain are strong in their roles.
If there is an issue with HALL, it feels as if it is a bit padded in the middle portion of the film. There is a lot of writhing on the floor, groaning as the virus-addled person is crawling toward the camera. This works to a point and the subtle but compelling effects help quite a bit, but the more it is shown, the less impact it has. At one point, Val is separated from Kelly and strangely, there seems to be a lack of urgency on Val’s part to get to her daughter amidst this plague. At one point, another character has to almost remind her to go get her daughter, which to me, given what was shown prior with the character, really felt atypical. The amount of time Val takes to get to her daughter, or at least the place where she tells her daughter to stay, really feels extended and stretches believability. Personally, hallway of zombies and twisted ankle aside, nothing would stop me from losing focus on getting my kid.
But HALL remains an extremely strong piece of one-location horror cinema. Director Francesco Giannini does a fantastic job of juggling character and suspense. HALL takes present day issues and twists them to terrifying lengths, resulting in an excruciating and harrowing small scale pandemic horror story.