BnB Hell

A disappearance is such a common plot device it's easy to forget how dreadful the uncertainty must be. Not knowing a loved one's fate is the worst sort of limbo, and to make things even harder, the police aren't always going to have the time or resources to take a given disappearance as seriously as those left behind would like. In BnB Hell Willa (Kimberly Woods) has both those problems, plus the fact that it's her twin, Stacy, who's disappeared. Since Stacy was the adventurous twin, the police have decided she was on drugs or otherwise just wandered off on her own, leaving Willa to search herself.

She's traced her sister as far as an online listing for a bed and breakfast called Mommy's Hollywood Heaven. And indeed, the owner (Carol Stanzione) does insist everyone call her Mommy, at which point I knew there would be trouble. She claims not to remember Stacy even though it was only a month ago she stayed there, but then, Mommy doesn't quite seem all there. Neither does the creepy neighbor (Mark Hanau). If it was anyone but Stacy missing Willa might have given up, since Willa is far and away one of the most sensible characters I've seen in any horror movie.

This particular B&B isn't the cleanest nor is it in the best repair, but it does have the gorgeous view promised online, featuring such landmarks as the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory. There's one other guest at the moment, a grad student named Marco (Rudy Dobrev) who is also remarkably not prone to doing silly things. It's a miracle the writers were able to move the plot along without resorting to a character who opens all the triple-locked doors and reads books bound in human skin.

After an awkward introduction, Marco begins to help Willa with her search, which includes hunting through various memory cards left behind by former guests. They're from the camera Mommy provides so that people can leave video reviews for her to post online, though most of what our amateur detectives find has very little to do with discussing the amenities of the house. A tantalizing glimpse of Stacy proves that Willa is on the right track, but there are even more shocking images on the cards. Clearly there's at least one highly dangerous person around, but it also seems that not all the dangers come from human beings.

I was hoping for nothing more than a decent slasher film, but this film went well beyond that. It is a solid and somewhat traditional slasher, but it also capably weaves in supernatural overtones and as mentioned even shockingly allows its main characters to use their common sense. Willa is the opposite of a damsel in distress and there are generally good performances from all the leads, though I did think that the villains could have been more creepy in some scenes. But the ending was as good as the rest, offering some clever twists, and worth four out of five stars. However bad your AirBnB experience may have been, this movie proves it can always get worse.

Image: 
Willa explores the B&B. Plenty of code violations there.

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