In an unusual motel on the outskirts of Bangkok, four lives intertwine and change forever. A father with kinky and somewhat dangerous sexual fetishes brings his latest partner, a school girl, to his custom-made erotic chamber in Room 7. A former child actor in the midst of wild media speculations checks into Room 5, hiding from the aliens he believes are out to get him. Throw into the mix a motel staffer determined to start a new, and a beautiful vixen determined to save her friend from a deadly sexual fantasy life by any means necessary. Motel Mist, and the mysterious powers behind the hotel, have opened for business.
Have you ever watched a trailer or read a synopsis, only to watch the film and feel that you were completely misled? I am pretty sure you have and I’m pretty sure it’s a pretty common practice. There has been a slew of films that have been intentionally mismarketed, not because the film itself is bad, but rather because the industry wants the film to make money—scared that what they’ve poured resources into isn’t what traditionally brings in the bucks. In recent memory, one needs only to look at Robert Egger’s The VVitch (2015). This was an amazingly beautiful, haunting film that had incredibly polarized responses. Why? Because people were going in expecting one thing and receiving another—like ordering a hamburger and getting served a steak. Sure, maybe the steak was better, but you were in the mood for a hamburger. Alternatively, maybe you were pleasantly surprised when you got an awesome steak.
This was my reaction to Motel Mist. Reading the synopsis, I felt like I was settling down for a watch similar to Naked Lunch or John Dies at the End. I was anticipating some kind of weird, drug-induced voyage involving kink and aliens…maybe kinky aliens? What I got was a film on a whole other level entirely.
While very unconventional and definitely on the fringe of what constitutes traditional storytelling, Motel Mist has a lot to unpack. With the majority of the first two acts revolving primarily around underage prostitution, kink, fetishes, and female submission, it is the least erotic “erotic” film I have encountered in forever. Director Prabda Yoon successfully makes you feel dirty and somewhat appalled as he forces you to face the reality of the sex trade that is still very prelevant in South East Asia. He makes you—at least as a man—feel different levels of guilt (or maybe shame?) for those dirty desires we all have buried within. He holds a light up to the abuse that sex workers still need to deal with although they are part of the world’s oldest profession. He brings up the issue of men being dominant in Asian societal norms and attacks the notion, literally and physically.
Prabda Yoon doesn’t stop there. Oh no…we have a lot more to chew through. Same-sex couples, homosexuality, domination, sisterhood, the ties between friendship, duty, and revenge; it’s a smorgasbord of political correctness, sexual violence, and social acceptance. The difference here is that it is done through the media of film. There is never once a finger pointed at you; never a character that is meant to embody you; never a line in the film that is directed at your character; and yet, the film still manages to speak directly to you—or maybe I’m just a terrible person? I’m probably a terrible person.
This is one of those films that deserves a gold medal or two around its neck but is just too foreign, obscure, and alternative to ever reach the international acclaim it so deserves. It’s an important film, but too extreme to be mainstream. It’s glorious but too unconventional to be understood en masse. That’s OK though. We need normal to set the standard so that we can continue to enjoy alternative media…and the ending is more alternative than most have the creatively to imagine
The film ends with a Roger Waters-esque guitar solo and a simple outro scene; clean, neat and purely art—nicely boxing off the viewing experience and solidifying the arthouse feel. The credits are then accompanied with some slow, beautiful fire dancing because why-the-fuck-not. It’s a great film, but it’s not what you are used to when it comes to horror. If anything, Motel Mist may just make you question whether or not you are the horror.
Thanks for reading and as always; stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
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