REVIEW: ‘Lingering’ is Hotel of Horror

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Lingering

Asian Horror, known to genre fans as A-Horror, has been a staple for American horror fans since the early 2000s when films like The Ring got American adaptations and ignited an interest in the US for the original material. And this interest hasn’t dwindled and instead has expanded from being mainly focused on J-Horror titles to films from across Asia. Shudder, AMC’s premiere streaming platform for horror and other genre films, has steadily increased its A-horror offerings, mainly when it comes to horror films from South Korea. With films like Warning Do Not Play and Metamorphosis, I’m excited every time a new K-Horror title is picked up for distribution by the platform. This month, Shudder Original Lingering (Hotel Leikeu in South Korea), written and directed by Yoon Een-Kyoung, has come to the platform, and let’s just say this one stays with you even after the credits roll.

Staring Lee Se-yeong, Park So-yi, and Park Ji-Young, Lingering centers on Yoo-mi (Lee Se-yeong). Seeking support as the guardian of her younger brother, Yoo-mi returns to a small hotel run by a family friend. But, as bizarre incidents creep up in her mother’s old room, Yoo-mi will have to unravel a supernatural mystery and discover the truth before it’s too late. The process of discovery means looking at all of the things that move in the hotel and other unexplained elements but also the repressed trauma that Yoo-Mi holds within her.

Haunted hotels are a special kind of creepy thanks to Kubrick’s masterpiece The Shining (yes, Stephen King wrote the book, but let’s be honest Kubrick is why the number 237 scares you). And Lingering clearly takes inspiration from that classic and the tropes it inspired—talking to things adults can’t see, a boiler room, tragedy, and more. But the film’s strength comes from the way it overlaps the present with moments from the past and how the filmmakers worked to make the hotel seem cavernous and claustrophobic at the same time.

Yoon’s ability in both directing and writing is on full display here as we see Yoo-Mi work through her past as its ghosts arise. Handling the trauma from her mother’s suicide, the film doesn’t deliver many nuances in the description of mental illness, nor empathy, at least until the end. That said, Yoon does present a narrative that pushes Yoo-Mi to confront her past and see past her assumptions and into what was really going on in the hotel.

The nefarious elements of the hotel bubble up to the surface first through the film’s scare-filled cold-open, and then through the small paintings on the wall and dreams until we see Yoo-Mi confront it head-on. But while the supernatural elements in the film are present, the human horror is what propels this film. The unraveling of what you believe is malicious hauntings into the human tragedy is seamlessly done. The build-up to the twist and its execution have an emotional impact that makes the appearances of the spirits all the more frightening and empathetic.

There are some dull moments in the film due to pacing. That said, the use of the hotel as its own character in the story has to be commended. The sets, the colors, particularly the use of red, are all excellent. When coupled with the acting and the story’s resolution, it makes Lingering a great addition to the Shudder line-up.

Lingering is available exclusively on Shudder now.

Lingering
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

There are some dull moments in the film due to pacing. That said, the use of the hotel as its own character in the story has to be commended. The sets, the colors, particularly the use of red, are all excellent. When coupled with the acting and the story’s resolution, it makes Lingering a great addition to the Shudder line-up.