Blood in the Snow Review: ‘Hall’ is a good idea held back by glacial pacing

Imagine that you need to escape. Your partner is abusive, and you’ve finally woken up. You take a family trip and stay in a fancy hotel. You are going to use this time to escape. This is the setup of Hall. Set almost entirely on one floor of a hotel, this drama has a woman who desperately wants to leave her husband and save her child but has never had a good opportunity until now. Unfortunately, something else is going on in the hotel.

As Val (Carolina Bartczak) sets her plan in motion, people start collapsing in the hall. Their veins bulge from their skin, they are unable to move and unable to speak, but they do seem frightening and aggressive. They’re in the hall, which means that Val is stuck in the room with her husband Branden (Mark Gibson).

Also in the hall is Naomi (Yumiko Shaku), an expectant mother who has contracted whatever it is that people are contracting. She is making a desperate escape bid too, to save herself and her baby she drags herself along the floor from her hotel room toward the emergency exit.

We never find out exactly what is going on in the hall, but we do know who is behind it, as a mysterious man played by Julian Richings (also appearing in Anything for Jackson at this very festival) appears in what amounts to a cameo to claim responsibility. It’s a virus of some kind, but we never know exactly how it’s going to play out.

In all honesty, this is a great setup. The characters are sympathetic and engaging; the actors all do a great job. The location is beautiful, the makeup effects are great, and the camera work is solid. This issue here is the pacing, as over the course of the 85-minute runtime very little happens, and what does happen happens incredibly slowly, and everything that happens would be the first act of a longer or faster-paced movie. It’s disappointing, especially given how strong the film is in other areas, but this issue prevented me from making a connection with it.

As a side note, definitely do not stick around during the credits, as there are scenes from a newscast that will tell you exactly what happened in the film as though you hadn’t just watched it. It’s a weird choice.

Still, this is a film you should watch and find out for yourself how you feel about it. As I said, on a technical level, it is incredibly well-produced, and even more so when you consider the likely budget constraints. If nothing else, this is one of those movies you watch so that when director Francesco Giannini eventually gets to bigger, more prestigious projects, you will be able to say you’ve seen his first film, because I firmly believe that he is moving onto bigger and better things.

Hall will air on SuperChannel as part of the 2020 Blood in the Snow Festival on Friday, October 30th at 6 pm Pacific / 9 pm Eastern.

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