The Paradise Motel (2022)

Walter Hochbrueckner directed, wrote and appears in this film which tells the story of Nikki Travis (Dawna Lee Heising), who has left her abusive husband Eric (Hochbrueckner) and while she doesn’t follow the lyrics of Tom Waits (“gonna drive all night / Take some speed”) as she goes out west, she sure finds plenty of weirdness.

She soon meets Misty (Llenelle Gibson) and Crystal (Angel Princess), two other women who are running from something too. Their three paths converge at a town called Paradise and Jackie’s (Vera R. Taylor) diner.

Paradise is a misnomer, as masked killers roam the streets, salarymen disappear regularly, Raymond Taylor (Mel Novak) seems to have the taxidermy skills and mommy issues of another hotel owner we know and fear and Nikki’s ex is still hunting for her, demanding the money she stole from him.

There are moments in this film that seem like they’re repeating, like you’re stuck in a dream where time moves like heavy mercury beneathe the waves, as you attempt to figure out why everyone has found this town, who left that knife just sitting out and why no one thinks it’s al that strange that Nikki wants to be known as Joan Crawford now. Also: a perfect amount of cheetah print.

The Paradise Motel is a quirky movie that succeeds because of its oddball nature. It’s not trying to be weird; it just is naturally. And isn’t that the best?

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