No Tell Motel (2013) poster

No Tell Motel (2013)


USA. 2013.


Director – Brett Donowho, Screenplay – T.J. Cimfel, Producer – Rick Dugdale, Photography – Edd Lukas, Music – Nathan Vann Walton, Makeup Effects – Tenille Shockey, Production Design – Eddie Hagman. Production Company – Tony-Seven Films, LLC/Enderby Entertainment.


Chalie Howes (Megan), Johnny Hawkes (Spencer), Andrew MacFarlane (Kyle), Angel McCord (Corey), Chelsey Reist (Rachel), Rileigh Chalmers (Angela), Heath Whitelock (Matthew), James Tyce (Grigor Horak), Stephanie Van Dyck (Mary Horack)


A group of five friends are on a road trip in a RV. They take a backroads route but Kyle is driving too fast and the RV overturns. They hike back to the abandoned Round the Bend Motel they passed earlier and seek refuge there for the night. As they settle in, disturbing things start to occur. Over the course of the night, the secrets that various of the group hold start to come out, while Kyle becomes consumed by the drugs he finds lying about. Meanwhile, the group start to see the ghost of a girl who was killed several years earlier on the road outside the motel and realise that the events are still haunting the place.

No Tell Motel was the third film for director Brett Donowho who has worked in the horror and crime/thriller genres. Donowho had previously made the horror film The Sacred (2012) and the non-genre Salvation (2013) and went on to the horror films A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013) and 5 Souls (2013) and the non-genre Acts of Violence (2019). He has also produced several genre films with the horror films The Speak (2011), Parlor (2015) and Hell Girl (2019), and the SF film Blackjacks (2014).

No Tell Motel feels like a film that should have been interesting. The backroads motel has become a horror locale ever since Psycho (1960) through to the more recent likes of Vacancy (2007). On the other hand, the film seems to be made with too low a budget to afford to even create a decent-looking abandoned motel. All we get is a frontispiece and sign and a couple of rooms, no sense of any parking lot or even there being any other units.

The Round the Bend motel and ghost girl on the swing in No Tell Motel (2013)
The Round the Bend motel and ghost girl on the swing

Brett Donowho gives us a generic bunch of teens/twentysomethings. They are outfitted with various problems – Chalie Howes has just discovered she is pregnant, Andrew MacFarlane is the former football star who has developed a drug addiction, his brother Johnny Hawkes has an unrequited crush on Chalie, while Chelsey Reist confesses to having accidentally killed someone. All of these come out during the course of the evening and are turned around on the characters in various ways. This at least seems to be giving the generic victims more depth than usual.

However, Donowho turns out a film that never goes anywhere. He creates a contained situation but it is not clear what is going on. There is the ghost of the little girl who was run down on the road. There are assorted sinister things happening with her family and with the wounded man who crashed in his car but what is happening is murky. Out of this, Brett Donowho does nothing to produce any scares or tension, just a series of middle-of-the-road pop up shocks that lend meaning to the term tepid.

Trailer here

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