San Diego Asian Film Festival 2012 presents Mekong Hotel

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Illumination Films

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Review Rating: 6

Normally, Moxie would start off a review of any given movie with a brief synopsis of the plot and then expound to opinions. I actually can’t do that in this instance, I really wasn’t sure what the plot of Mekong Hotel was supposed to be!

We begin our very very strange tale with a Hotel on the Mekong river, situated somewhere between the Thai and Laos border. The hotel seems to be sparsely populated to begin with, but there’s a Man who visits and stays there on occasion, a young woman and her Mother, who apparently live there, and some maids. The Mother character and her Daughter, they are something called a Pod ghost, which was never explained as far as any Thai culturisms or anything else is concerned, but are some sort of vampire-like creatures who eat entrails. The Man in question appears to be the love interest of the Daughter, I guess. And the Man has a friend who plays the guitar a lot.

There doesn’t appear to be any continuous plot whatsoever. The Daughter attempts to seduce the Man, the Mother eats entrails that come from various living things, and throughout it all, slow Spanish-style guitarra is the only background music, matter of fact, the only music at all in the entire film. The sound actually managed to grate on my nerves after awhile. Long shots of the Mekong river, offered with no meaning to the film at all, dominate the movie. The Pod ghost Mother subjects her Daughter to various diatribes about history, and yet while she’s in the middle of explaining things, the sound peters out, the guitar picks up and the subtitles go away. Towards the end, there is indeed a somewhat poignant scene where the Mother ghost apologizes to her Daughter for the way she is, and deplores being a 600 years old nightmare ghostie. Then the audience is subject to practically 10 whole minutes of a long shot of the MekongRiver once again, where people are jetskiing in circles. Then, darkness and credits. And we’re all left wondering, what the hell did I just watch?

Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (there’s a mouthful) has already made a name for himself with his other films, such as Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which sadly I haven’t seen. Mostly rave reviews for his other films makes me wonder, what was the point of Mekong Hotel being made into a feature length film? It could have done so much better as a Short Film, in with other strange inexplicable Horror Shorts.

 

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