I always like to end this Countdown to Halloween with something brand new, and for the past two years, it's been the latest entry in David Gordon Green's Halloween franchise. Thankfully, we do NOT have another one of those this time around. Instead, I watched a film that's been getting a lot of good buzz: The Royal Hotel.
I'll come out and say, this is not really a scary movie, but if you've seen writer and director Kitty Green's last movie, The Assistant, also starring Julia Garner, you know she has a knack for tension and dread, of which much can be found in The Royal Hotel.
Garner co-stars with Jessica Henwick as Hannah and Liv, two American women, pretending to be Canadians (because, according to Liv, "everyone likes Canadians") on a trip through Australia. When they run out of money, they sign up for a work travel job at a pub in a remote mining town, where they must deal with a drunk boss (played by an unrecognizable Hugo Weaving) who never pays them, and an almost entirely male clientele that loves to rile them.
The two women find themselves constantly trying to weigh the micro aggressions from the macro aggressions, which in itself creates ongoing anxiety. Is one of these guys going to get violent? Will they take no for an answer? And the majority of the time, Hannah is the one having to both ward off potential threats, while also keeping a much less cautious Liv out of trouble.
While there are several scenes that had me tensing up as much as I would during the scariest movie, The Royal Hotel is definitely not a horror movie in the strictest sense of the word. But it certainly captures the too frequent potential for horror women, both travelers and those just trying to exist in this world, have to guard themselves against seemingly every damn day of their lives.
I rented The Royal Hotel via Prime Video and it is available on most VOD platforms.