Night at the Eagle Inn is a 2-star destination you’re better off driving right past.
Brothers Erik and Carson Bloomquist might just be the hardest working filmmakers in show business right now, and chances are you have never even heard of them. Their latest feature, the thriller Night at the Eagle Inn, is their third film to be released in 2021, this one coming mere weeks after their last venture, Christmas on the Carousel. (Why the Christmas movie was released before Halloween, and the horror one after, is a question for another time.) Erik takes sole directing credit here, while both brothers share writing, editing, and producing honors. Commonalities between their films include 70-minute running times, single locations, and a handful of cast members. One can only imagine the budgets for these projects are minimal at best, and the mere fact that they are getting distribution to wider audiences is worth celebrating. Whereas their romantic drama from earlier this year, Weekenders, proved a welcome diversion thanks to its low-key naturalism and subtle charms, Night at the Eagle Inn is another beast entirely, a horror flick in which two fraternal twins, Sarah (Amelia Dudley) and Spencer (Taylor Turner), travel to the titular abode in the snowy mountains of Vermont in hopes of finding answers regarding their parents’ long-ago disappearance, but instead find literal hell on Earth. One can’t help but be reminded of both The Shining and The Innkeepers as various supernatural events unfold, including disembodied voices echoing through empty hallways, furniture that moves on its own, and static-ridden television sets that display disconcerting imagery of dastardly deeds (okay, that might be more The Ring right there).
But Bloomquist is no Stanley Kubrick — hell, he is no Ti West — and what results is a deeply stupid thriller completely devoid of thrills. So much key plot information is delivered in artless exposition dumps, while the “spooky” cinematography consists of nothing more than a few Dutch angles and some various colored lighting. The score is so generic that it literally sounds like one of those Halloween stations that pop up on Spotify every October, a combination of obvious synth and sharp strings. The acting is competent in its best moments, outright embarrassing at other times — Greg Schweers, appearing as The Night Manager, gives off major “Dinner Theater Jack Torrance” vibes, although his enthusiasm is, at the very least, appreciated. It doesn’t take a lot of money to scare audiences, as films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity have made abundantly clear, but everything here is so derivative and, quite frankly, boring, as if everyone involved was merely going through the motions. Perhaps there’s a reason why the majority of filmmakers don’t take on multiple projects within the span of a year; Night at the Eagle Inn is nothing if not a definitive sign of burn-out. Go ahead and take a breather, Erik and Carson — you’ve earned it, despite this latest dud.
Published as part of Before We Vanish | November 2021.