Tropical surroundings featuring an abandoned hotel complex smack bang in the middle of it. A picture-perfect setting for a horror movie featuring an attractive bunch of thrill-seeking adventurers. Given a strict deadline of just three months to write, prep and make the film, director and screenwriter Taylor Chien somehow managed to do just that. And the end product is a lot of fun. It isn’t a gore-fest, rather a more thoughtful character driven horror with scares in all the right places and a hugely impressive achievement considering the circumstances.

The once idyllic resort of Kllauna Island is now closed off from the rest of the world due to a series of bizarre and inexplicable events. The locals consider the area cursed due to tribal battles fought there many years ago and the ground sacred because of the blood spilt.

Researching her next novel, author Lex (Bianca Hasse) and her energetic group of friends decide to visit the island to investigate the many stories as well as the myth of The Half-Faced Girl that also shrouds the area in mystery. Not too long ago, a young child was rumoured to have been strangled there with her skipping rope. The suspects were tourists, but nobody was ever charged with her murder. After that, unexplained disappearances were a regular occurrence and the hotel’s room 306 in particular was home to chilling visions and reports of a ghostly presence in the form of The Half-Faced Girl. Now the resort is deserted with just a handful of locals patrolling the area to keep the curious away.

Obviously, our victims, or heroes, ignore all the warnings about going there and very quickly realise that some doors are best left unopened. Picturesque soon becomes grotesque.

At only 74 minutes long, the story progresses at a decent pace and the anticipation builds deliciously throughout. The four leads and their group dynamic are quickly established and they’re a likeable bunch even if they’re slightly stereotypical. There’s a guy with muscles, a joker in the pack and an Instagram obsessed selfie-taker. Of course, as with any horror film, other clichés are present, but The Resort embraces them with its tongue very firmly in cheek. It never takes itself too seriously with moments of comic relief and references to other films in the genre, usually from Sam (Michael Vlamis). The quartet have terrific chemistry together and all get their chance to shine.

There aren’t as many jump scares as you might be hoping for and the blood and guts take a while to appear, but when they do, they don’t disappoint. Borrowing from The Blair Witch Project, The Ring and other scary movies, it’s more of a slow-burner and all the better for it. The production values are sky high with the lush surroundings showcased to spectacular effect. Sweeping drone shots highlight the isolated island and the hotel interiors are suitably claustrophobic, but perhaps more could’ve been made of the latter.

Taylor Chien and his superb cast have a very promising future in front of them. Tense, intriguing and chilling, The Last Resort is well worth checking into.

The Resort will be releasing on digital and on demand from April 30th from Sky Store, Virgin, iTunes, Amazon, Microsoft Store, Google Play and Chili.

By Ben Peyton

Former actor (a regular in The Bill) and now film writer for various outlets. @BenPeyton007 ben@foryourfilmsonly.com

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