Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Suspenseful Neo-Noir FilmFeb. 11 2010
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Considering this film was released in only a handful of theaters, I was surprised at how entertaining it was. I was impressed most with the work of Alex Merkin, who makes his film debut with Across the Hall.
Visually, this film is a real treat. The movie takes place in an aging hotel, which becomes a character in itself. The lighting, shadows, use of color and weather all contribute towards making this a fun film noir to soak in. Another treat is the film's score, which combines big band (Starlight Serenade by the Alan Moorhouse Orchestra) and contemporary music. Much of the movie's score is original music by composer Aaron Kaplan, and psychedelic folk rock group Calico Haunts.
While I was unfamiliar with lead actor Mike Vogel, I was already a fan of Danny Pino's work portraying druglord Armadillo Quintero on The Shield. Pino does a convincing job in Across the Hall playing Terry, the vengeful lover. Brad Greenquist, whose career has primarily been in television, adds to the peculiar vibe of the film as the hotel's quirky porter.
This was a tense thriller that pulled me in from the very first scene, and the excellent opening title sequence. It's not a breakthrough film, but if you're a fan of neo-noir in the vein of 21 Grams or Seven, you will probably enjoy it.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Perfect Noir Story ... perfectly done. Really.May 15 2011
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First, I have to point out that this is the last movie starring Brittany Murphy that was released in her lifetime. She was excellent in this excellent movie, and I hope she knew it. Another reviewer here on Amazon has stated that she is in only '15 minutes' of the movie. That's completely untrue. She is one of the three main actors in this film -- she played a major role, and did it very well. Her appearance is not just some kind of cameo.
That said ... There's a story about this story, and it's worth knowing before you watch this movie. Alex Merkin, the director, had an idea ... a sort of noir / 'locked room' hybrid, and it is one hell of a great plot. If James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, or especially Cornell Woolrich had written this story back in the day, Fox or RKO would have snapped it up (and Otto Preminger would have directed) -- "Across the Hall" would have made Noir and Hollywood history. The story really is that good. (The role cell phones play in the movie ... really the only modern element ... could easily have been replaced with another plot device -- car keys, notes, whatever -- and probably should have been, to keep this great plot truly timeless.)
I think Alex Merkin knew what he had with this story back in 2006, when he and screenwriter Julien Schwab developed the story into a 16-minute short, also called "Across the Hall." Virtually every line and scene in this 16-minute masterpiece also appears in the 'long' version, released in 2009. And the 'long' version, which is the subject of this review -- and also is written by Schwab and directed by Merkin -- doesn't just expand on its 16-minute predecessor, it improves on it in every way.
This isn't 'neo-noir,' as with a modern film that borrows elements from that genre. No, as stated above, this is something that Cornell Woolrich could have written in 1940, if he'd thought of it. "Across the Hall" would fit comfortably in any vintage film noir anthology -- except it's in color and was made a half-century after the golden age of 'classic' film noir. Even "Chinatown" (I film I love, a lot) doesn't have, and doesn't try for, the claustrophobic, heart-pounding sense of minutes slipping away as fate closes in on the hapless protagonists -- and that's the basis of all classic film noir.
In case you can't tell, I love this film!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Across the HallApril 2 2010
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The tense stand-off between a young man, his unfaithful fiancée, and his best friend. Terry's fiancée, June, is having an affair. After following June to a run-down hotel on the far side of town, Terry quietly rents a room across the hall. With a bottle of whiskey and a loaded gun, he calls his best friend, Julian, and spills his guts. Realizing that it's only a matter of time before Terry goes off, Julian begs his friend to remain calm long enough for him to get to the hotel and diffuse the situation. Mike Vogel and Danny Pino were great in this movie and it is a great thriller with enough twists and turns to keep the viewer intrigued to the end. Brittany Murphy's she is just a bit player that lasted maybe 15 minutes of the movie, but does do a good job. All in all, I liked this movie keeps you guessing. Check it out.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Film NoirJune 22 2010
Karl E. Weaver
- Published on Amazon.com
This film is an overlooked gem which did not make it big in the theatre. Brittany Murphy has the lead female role. Danny Pino is her boyfriend (or husband) Terry. Mike Vogel is Terry's best friend Julian, and Brad Greenquist has a scene-stealing role as the hotel bellboy.
The central plot of the movie involves "June"-that would be Brittany--checking into a seedy, run-down hotel (somewhere in the Hollywood area it seems), and her paranoid husband Terry, who is continuously convinced she must be cheating on him. He has FOLLOWED her to this hotel and he checks into the room ACROSS THE HALL, from which he can observe anyone who goes into or out of the room. Oh yeah--and he's got a gun, and he's been drinking pretty hard....
Well, cellphones make quite a showing in the film. Terry calls his friend Julian to give him the bad news that his wife really IS cheating on him because after all there she is, in that seedy hotel waiting for someone. Julian is alarmed that Terry is going to do something rash--especially when he finds out about the gun...Terry don't do anything rash man--wait--I'm coming over--just wait for me....
The tension, which is maintained almost from beginning to end of this film, is broken ONLY by the BELLBOY--This guy has to be seen to be believed. I think he should have gotten an Oscar for best minor-supporting role. He's the only one in the whole hotel who takes his job seriously. You'd think he was the manager of Trump Towers. Unfortunately at this place, you can now pay "by the hour" as one option. Still he dresses in one of those formal old bellboy outfits from...the 30's? 20's? The red coat and that ridiculous red, flat bellboy hat, with a white strap that goes under the chin (A look similar to the dress of a monkey that sits on the shoulder of an organ-grinder). He was hilarious, while being completely serious at all times. I LOVE THIS GUY!
The storyline is nonlinear and you have to give it credit: this is no adaptation from a book or a short story or a play. This is a script which can ONLY WORK in a movie. The scenes start sort of midway through the movie and from there they keep cutting back toward the start and then forward to continue. It starts out a little bit confusing, but it draws you in and hooks you. It isn't until near the end of the film that you can sort out the whole story from beginning to end. And what an ending! The entire film builds toward this ending and it is perfectly executed. I couldn't predict the ending (maybe some of you can) but it's powerfully done (with almost no dialog) and the musical score greatly adds to the effect. This is a film that just continually builds up momentum until the finish, which is good enough to be taught in film school. I watched this film twice-something I don't do that often. It's definitely worth seeing.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Overlooked GemMarch 2 2010
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It's worth peering through the deep murk of the photographic filters used on this film to see what's going on. There's a reveal along its course that is virtually guaranteed to make you gasp! After that, it unfolds as a well crafted nail-biter, with several scenes building to Hitchcockian levels of tension.
The story is told in jigsaw puzzle fashion - with some flashbacks juxtaposed against what is presumably current action. However the technique doesn't come off as arty artifice here. It works, adding to the taut dichotomy of now-this-hotel-room/now-the room-across-the-hall - with that dangerous expanse of no man's land in between.
The taut rope of action is also stretched across the uneasy territory between realism and surrealism. But again, this specific kind of noir atmosphere works in this case. Once you get moving into the spirit of the film, you feel its drifting, unanchored quality, with its windows all heavily draping out any specifics of time and place - to be integral to the action rather than just another directorial attempt to cop an artistic award.
This subtle nudge towards surrealism makes the movie linger with you all the more hauntingly. While the major plot questions are resolved, you'll probably be left with other, more personal questions about the characters, taunting you to go back and perhaps fit the pieces of the film together a little differently in your mind. What was the nature of the friendship between the two lead actors, such that one felt impelled to phone the other right in the middle of pillow talk, in order to tell him he'd just proposed to that girl lying next to him - the girl of his dreams? And could there really exist a hotel bellhop/night clerk with such a creepy, conspiratorial cast to his welcoming? He seems to be simultaneously preternaturally knowing about the real intentions of those who check into the hotel - and preternaturally opaque to all human folly. Who is he - really?
All around, this was a surprisingly intelligent, eerie, murder mystery noir. I would have given it five stars except for the frustrating obscurity of the way it projected on my TV screen. All the pains taken to set a scene are wasted. For example, in the extras on this DVD, they have a "Making of..." that points out how a picture of the Titanic was portentously hung in the hotel corridor. Well, there's no chance of making out that detail or any other such detail on your home screen if you have a somewhat older TV such as mine. Then the faces too often looked like smudged fingerprints emerging from some impenetrable gloom. However, Brittany Murphy manages to shine through. She is at her limpid, translucent best here, and the film can serve as a worthy memorial.