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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 9, 2013

The Diplomat Hotel Movie Review: Tedious & Incomprehensible

WE CAN’T HELP but pity Gretchen Barretto while watching “The Diplomat Hotel”. She probably thought this would be a good comeback vehicle for her on the big screen. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work as a horror movie. Actually, we’re surprised it got accepted by Cinemalaya when horror movies is already a staple in mainstream cinema and definitely not a good genre for indie films.

But the Diplomat Hotel on top of the Dominican Hotel is really a source of many urban legends about haunting and maybe it’s the the screening committee deemed it would be a good material for a horror flick so they accepted this project as an official entry. It starts with a TV host played by Gretchen trying to mediate in a hostage situation that ends horribly bad. She ends up seeking post traumatic treatment and when she’s released, she asks that the assignment be given to her is a documentary on the infamous haunted hotel, believing it will her redeem her and revive her career.

She goes up to Baguio with a cameraman (Art Acuna), a makeup artist (Sarah Gaugler), a soundman (Nico Antonio) and a man (Mon Confiado) who is related to the former owner of the hotel. As may be expected, their expedition ends up in disaster, with Gretchen losing her sanity in the end, laughing and crying like she turned into Sisa and is about to look for Crispin and Basilio.

The storytelling is tedious and often incomprehensible. There are flashback scenes involving Joel Torre and a young woman he beats up badly, Chanel La Torre, but it’s not really clear what their connection to the story concretely is. The various scenes simply lack cohesion and some of them just don’t make sense. The cinematography is bad and sometimes, you have a hard time figuring out what exactly is going on on the big screen, especially in the night scenes. Everyone becomes hysterical for reasons that aren’t really clear and they all resort to histrionics. The end result is that it doesn’t really scare but only annoy the viewers.