Directed by Edwin Bomke | Reviewed by Sabarno Sinha
“The Wondrous Inn” begins with a very well-crafted shot of two men walking towards a forest, laughing about a farmer who they had swindled of money. The upbeat music produces a feeling of confidence and sets the light mood which the film carries through quite successfully. The duo come across a Magic Kitchen where they come across two women who offer them food. Keeping aside the lighting, the music and the action of the blonde girl (Dolly) of wrapping the book with thread sets a very creepy tone which seems to forebode of what is to come. As they offer the two food and drink, we start noticing the repetition of the word “magic” which ensures that we all understand that there is indeed something magical about the entire place and its things – be it the shotgun that is casually pointed at when the two travellers ask about the riches of the house or the wine which is described as having been pressed from the grapes of their “magic garden”. The two inquire about the precious things in the house and we understand very well as to what they are about to do. Once the ladies have been drugged, the two start robbing the house – the depiction of the way in which the entire atmosphere has changed and has been affected by their act of treachery is quite wonderful and sits close to home. The repeated shots of the woman who had been drugged getting up, the animals outside getting agitated and thereafter, the two men running away but to no avail have been sequenced very well though in a hackneyed fashion. The music, while they are being hunted, doesn’t evoke any kind of fear among the audience but endeavours to make the entire affair rather comedic which, I hope, has been the intention of the director from the very beginning. This leads me to conclude, therefore, that what the director had been more interested in is the depiction of human folly and not a tale of horror. In the very end, they realise (quite literally and painfully) that they have always been a part of a game, one which they thought that they would win every time through their tricks and deception. However, it finally did not work in the Magic Kitchen whose guardian angels made sure that the two thieves were trapped in the video game that they had been playing for eternity. What surprised me most about this film is its relatively good quality of sound which is often a problem with productions having higher budget. It was more or less consistent. Furthermore, the sound design and use of foley (environmental sound) has also been done in a rather skilful manner due to which the film doesn’t have any jarring sounds, as such. However, it is without a doubt that the cinematography could have been better than it was. The opening shot of the film showed great promise to me but there are a few things which struck me as the film progressed. Firstly, the film was not one belonging to the horror genre and even used high-key lighting in various moments. Then, why was it that such a cold colour palette chosen for the film? It would have, perhaps, been in the director’s favour if richer and fuller colours were chosen for the film which would suit its theme and the strain of hilarity it dealt with. Secondly, the tones or internal settings of the camera were altered in certain scenes for two different shots which made me understand quite well that two cameras were being used. For example, the very first scene where the two thieves are talking to each other. It is the job of the cinematographer to ensure consistency of the colours of the shots while shooting. I should also mention that I have no complaints about the acting in the film. The quality has been stellar, indeed, and it would not be an overstatement to say that the cast of the film has been the best part of the film. The subtleties of expression that is demanded in crucial moments in films have been met very well by the actors who played the roles of the two thieves. I have been quite impressed with them. In terms of narrative and storyline, I don’t have much to complain about for it has been quite straightforward and linear and not unnecessarily complicated. I feel that this film will be received quite well as it chooses to rework certain themes and motifs from old European tales which we have all grown up reading. Hence, it is understandable and might even be nostalgic for many people. I wish the directors the very best and hope that the film reaches great heights.
Sabarno Sinha is an undergraduate student of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He was active in the debating and MUN circuit in Kolkata. Sabarno frequently writes short stories, poems and screenplays for short films. A lover of world cinema, Sabarno finds pleasure in watching contemporary as well as classic films from Japan, Italy and Germany among others.