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Review The Haunted Hotel a.k.a. Panggonan Wingit (2023): Offers more than it lets on in the beginning!

genre: thriller, horror

When reading reviews, the first thing is mentioned that the story is weak. Of course, a good story helps. But does this always make a better horror film. I would argue that other aspects are far more vital. Like, for example, build-up of tension and dread. A spooky and dark atmosphere. Scares and thrills. In that regard, The Haunted Hotel could have also done immensely better, but strangely enough, the film was compelling enough.

Indonesian horror in large part borrows from old Japanese horror tropes and combines these with unique cultural and religious elements, which often is rooted in Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. I therefore recognize certain aspects that for me personally make things more compelling. But also, people who aren't familiar will find things that they haven't seen before. This is the case with The Haunted Hotel. Apart from the creepy long-haired female ghost, there is a causality between this female being a ghost and how she was handled after her death. Granted, the story behind this is a little convoluted and a bit convenient, since one could have easily avoided the mistakes that have been made had there been some communication. Why assume things when you don't see the full picture? Then again, in our daily lives, we do this all the time. Because we are human beings with emotions. If we always could shut them off and let our brains handle things, we wouldn't be in such predicaments in the first place. Still, that practically would make us robots. And robots don't experience the pleasures of life as we do. But whether it was stupid or not, anger is in place and leads to an almost never-ending grudge. It's up to the main characters to deal with this.

I myself never can get enough of watching people fight ghosts and demons, especially if they are infused with the unique cultural elements as I described earlier. And it certainly helps if there are some twists and turns to make events less predictable. I am not going to say whether this is the case or not with this film, but I do think that as an overall viewing experience, The Haunted Hotel offers more than it lets on in the beginning. To be fair though, had the film been a little more creepy and scary, I think more people would have enjoyed the film as much as I did.

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