Review – Hotell #4 (AWA Studios)

Publisher: AWA Studios
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Dalibor Talajić
Colours: Lee Loughridge
Lettering: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 19th August 2020

David has brought his sick son out to the Pierrot Courts Hotel in the hopes of healing him. This being the Pierrot Courts, however, his healing isn’t going to involve anything as simple as a taste of the outdoors, crystal healing or circle chanting – a fact which is soon evidenced by the arrival of Father Villalobos.

When Father Villalobos’ inept ministrations fail, a demon breaks loose in the hotel coinciding with the solar eclipse. But even the hordes of Hell will soon learn that the Pierrot Courts is a place to fear, and that it has its own means of defending itself and the guests who can beat their own demons.

So here we are, issue four and time to check out of the Pierrot Courts Hotel once and for all. From day one, I’ve said that it’s an absolute tragedy that this is only a four issue run. There are simply way too many stories that could be told to just end it in four damned issues. That being said, how bloody good are the four issues we’ve had?

I was actually toying with the idea of not boring you again by telling you how good a writer I think John Lees is, but it’s my dime, so…

Firstly, I’m not going to tell you that this is my favourite John Lees story. It’s up there, but my favourite I think will always be Sink (and lets be fair, asking which is John Lees’ best story is a bit like asking you to choose your favourite child). I do however think that this is an incredibly well-executed horror series that gets under your skin and has you off-kilter from start to finish. Over the course of this very short series (yes, I’m going to sulk about it the whole of this review), Lees has thrown in so many threads and twists and sub-genres that I’ve been genuinely worried that he wouldn’t have time to pull them all together.

As I’ve previously commented, there are some obvious influences in this series. Creep Show, Psycho, The Shining, Night Gallery and The Twilight Zone to name but a few, but this final issue also really reminded me of the 2016 film Southbound. Throughout this series we’ve had a plethora of horror types; paranormal and supernatural, body shock, torture and survival horror, all wrapped up in a location that does not appear to be a part of the mundane world. It takes skill to weave stories within stories within stories as we’ve seen in this series, but also to smoothly move between genres (often in the same scene) is damned impressive.

Issue four does indeed manage to pull all the threads together from the previous issues (see, I had nothing to worry about after all), and delivers a finale that is everything I’d hoped it would be. It’s dark, it’s twisted and it’s disturbing, and just when you think things are about as bad as they can get, the Pierrot Courts fights back and it is glorious! There is so much more I want to say about the story here, but I’d only end up spoiling it for you. Suffice to say, you won’t be disappointed by a single page.

Dalibor Talajić, Lee Loughridge and Sal Cipriano do a really outstanding job on the artwork this issue. There’s a lot going on in these 24 pages, and they handle the switches and changes between the different threads of the story beautifully. All the way through the series, the artwork has been excellent. I’ve loved Talajić’s character and creature design and the atmosphere and terror he’s delivered in bringing Lees’ script to life, and Loughridge’s colours and Cipriano’s letters have been just as instrumental in bringing those images screaming off the pages. The ultimate nightmare in this series, which I won’t spoil for you, is the creepiest damned thing I’ve seen in ages and plays to one of my worst fears, so well done gentlemen!

The Pierrot Courts Hotel has been, for want of a better word, an absolute joy to visit. I’ve loved every moment and it’s a real wrench knowing this is the end. I do however, have the nascent hope that this is just the end of “chapter one”. As I’ve said before, there is so much that John Lees et al could do with this setting and these characters. In this final issue, Lynch gives us the sense that, while we knew this wasn’t the first set of stories the Pierrot Courts had to tell us, and that the events are in some way cyclical. Lynch himself also appears to be as much a victim of the hotel as anyone else, and has been there for longer than it may appear. That combined with some fairly well-established horror conventions surrounding the epilogue of this series means that there are plenty of excuses for this creative team to pick up pen and brush and book us in for another trip down Route 66 to The Pierrot Courts Hotel in the future.

Rating: 5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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