Yang Chen(Victor Chen Sze Hon) and Lin Xinya(Mi Gong) are dating with each other. They both work for a TV station as a reporter. They are assigned to report a murder case in the Love Motel. As soon as they arrive at the hotel, their are involved in a series of nightmares. It turns out that the victims used to have the same experiences as them…
Have you ever watched a film that made you go “What the hell did I just watch?”? And I don’t mean in a good way like you might after watching a particularly good David Lynch film, or a completely bonkers exploitation film from the 1970’s. No, I mean genuine confusion. As in you can’t actually describe what you just watched because you have no freaking clue what was going on.
I have, and it’s called Love Motel. There will be spoilers. Well, to a degree that I can spoil something that I do not fully understand, but if you wish to be confused without any previous knowledge of the twists and turns of this tale, stop reading now.
While I have definitely had other confusing cinematic experiences while reviewing films for this site, I have to say, Love Motel is up there with the best of them. I’ll do my best to try to explain this: the story follows two reporters Yang Chen and Xinya Lin, who get assigned to go cover a brutal murder that has just happened in a remote hotel.
The two also happen to be lovers, but are going through a rough patch, or as the kids in the 90’s would say are “on a break”. Uuuh, the tension. Soon after their arrival to this very off kilter establishment, where the staff openly hit on you and a renovation crew continue to work even in the middle of the night, the two lovers find themselves hunted by not one, but two killers and eventually end up dead themselves. Say Whaat? Only 30 minutes in and our main characters are dead already? Well have no fear, they will soon respawn and make their way back to the hotel, this time with a super annoying random couple in a tow.
And you guessed it, those pesky killers are at it again and everyone, including the annoying couple end up dead. This time our heroes wake up at the hotel front lobby, where they both have for some reason fallen asleep. They obviously decide that there’s safety in numbers, and book just one room for the two of the; only to end up murdering each other. Then we’re back in the beginning again, with Yang and Xinya given the same assignment and them going through the same motions as before, the difference being that they seem to remember some details about these “previous lives” or whatever they are. As reality crumbles around them the pair end up on a remote highway to catch a lift from that annoying couple from before and end up in a car crash, but not before the annoying guy says something cryptic like “We’re not in a sincere love story. We have to disappear before we go back to reality”. So mysterious. And so, they wake up in their beds again and after passing the annoying couple on the street and briefly locking eyes with them in a meaningful manner, they again make their way back to the hotel (or so I assume).
Confused yet? I sure am, as even going through this film segment by segment for the purpose of writing this review, I still can’t make head nor tail of it. I mean, I’m not a total idiot, I understand that there’s some kind of reality loop type of situation here and these four people are stuck in it for whatever reason, but even a reality loop needs to have some kind of logic! First of all, who are the killers and why is one of them dressed like the Zodiac Killer? And why oh why do they just disappear from the story midway through?
You would kind of think that they would somehow be a pretty key element to this mystery but evidently not since they can just be forgotten in the middle of the story. And who’s this other couple? Why do they enter the story in the middle of it? Do they have any significance or are they just filler? Are these people actively trying to get out of this loop or are they completely unaware of what’s going on? And what’s the significance of the hotel’s neon sign that the camera keeps returning to, or the fact that the hotel is called “Truth Hotel”( this keeps getting mentioned throughout the film so I can only assume it has some kind of relevance)? I have so many questions but no answers. Even the promo image on the films IMDb page is confusing: It shows a random old house (not the hotel from the film) and a creepy hand rising from a lake. There’s no lake in this film! And definitely no hands emerging from one. Seriously, what the what?!
I will admit that the version I watched did not have the best subtitles, so maybe something was lost in the translation, and perhaps there’s more of a plot structure than I could comprehend, but even so, it can’t be very coherent. There’s just too much illogical nonsense for there to be a consistent plot here. So, if you wish to be utterly baffled, by all means give Love Motel (2012) a go. Otherwise, I would highly recommend staying as far away as possible.