Motel (2010) – By Cary Conley

Along a dark and lonely stretch of New England back road, two friends decide to end their long day of driving at a motel. As they pull in, they notice a hotel immediately across the road. The two decide to split up to see which has the cheapest price. But something is amiss. The managers at each motel look exactly the same, as do the offices of each motel. As the two friends try to play each manager against the other in order to obtain the best price, what they find is that the tables have been turned and the managers are playing them. Thus starts a long night of bargaining and arguing. One friend is ready to give up and drive on, but the other has become obsessed with the game of one-upmanship and refuses to give in until he wins.

Writer/director William Peters’ 13-minute short is a nifty cross between an episode of The Twilight Zone and classic comedy. Something is certainly awry in the New Hampshire backwoods, with motel managers who look eerily like the other managers and motel offices that are also the same. And just as the two frustrated motorists are ready to give up, they notice a third motel they managed to miss on several occasions. But while the third motel looks different on the outside, it seems to be the same on the inside. Are these travelers trapped in a real-life Motel Hell? Peters does a good job using the washed-out, wintry New Hampshire landscape to eerie effect and the brightly lit manager’s offices are sources of comedy.

But while the film contains some fantasy and mystery elements, this short is truly a comedy. How many of us have experienced the embarrassment of a friend who must have the last word in an argument. Perhaps it is with a cashier or a waitress or a salesperson in a store. How many of us have suffered as a friend or family member embarrasses us as they try to get a better bargain, only to lose the argument as well as their dignity?

If you’ve ever suffered through something such as this, then Motel will certainly strike a nerve. Both mysterious and funny, Motel is a winner. You can view this great short at http://www.motelshort.com.