Shandy Aulia - Naya
Denny Sumargo - Sena
Sylvia Fully - Erin
Ki Kusumo - Harlan
With the huge Samudra Hotel as a setting, one might assume that 308 is looking for some The Shining-style creepiness which the eerie corridors of the building look like they would be perfect for. Unfortunately what 308 is an overlong, meandering mess that spends a very long time getting to the point and when it finally does, it is both cheesy and hugely underwhelming.
Naya (Shandy Aulia) is set up with a job by friends of hers, working at the Samudra Hotel which is run by by Sena, a man who had a big crush on Naya in college. Accompanying Naya is her little sister Aira, a mischievous little girl who likes playing tricks on her sister and generally getting herself into trouble.The hotel is known for one room in particular, that room being the 308 of the title. It is connected to local South Sea lore about a beautiful young queen who was cursed by her vengeful stepmother. The Queen grew sick, her skin started to fall off and she became hideous and putrid. Her appearance causing her to be banished she dove into the South Sea, reversing the curse but causing her to become a spirit and Queen of the South Sea. This story has led to many local superstitions such as room 308 becoming a place where her spirit would dwell, requiring tributes to avoid her vengeful wrath against those that wrong her.
Thrilled to be working, Naya discovers that there is some emergency fumigation that needs to happen around the hotel so she will part of a skeleton crew with a handful of other employees. To make them even more isolated there is also a huge storm on the way which will effectively cut them off from the outside world for a few days. Naya tries to fit in and get used to her new surroundings while Aira causes trouble, including almost going into the fabled room 308. It’s not long however before Naya starts to become suspicious. One of the other employees is relaying the story of the Queen’s curse and says how disgusting she must have looked with her rotting, decaying flesh. Soon after she starts to become sick, her own skin starting to peel from her arms. Naya also starts snooping around, finding odd discrepancies in who is listed as employed at the hotel, and seeing the other staff secretly going into room 308. Finally, she has to see for herself and steals the key to the room and enters it, finding inside a shrine to the Queen of the South Sea. Curiosity killed the cat, and it starts killing those trapped inside the Samudra Hotel as Naya must solve the mystery of why she has been brought there and keep her little sister safe.
308 starts promisingly with a lovely lead actress and a spooky hotel setting that should feel familiar and reassuring to horror fans. However for 308’s 120 minute runtime it is shocking just how little actually happens in this movie. There is perhaps one genuine scare scene where a character does something a little like The Exorcist’s spider walk but it ends with said person then running and face planting into a wall in comical fashion. Other scenes show “haunted instruments” playing themselves and a man runs from a “haunted dagger” but these scenes literally look like they were created using objects hanging from fishing wire, dangling around like some micro-budget piece of schlock from decades ago. These scenes are frankly embarrassing to sit through, why are these scenes so utterly dreadful and how were they possibly considered a good payoff after what felt like days watching this characters do little or nothing of interest at all? The only positive here is that they at least serve as a goofy distraction from how utterly tedious the rest of the movie is. Other ghostly scenes consist mainly of people walking into rooms and finding them messed up, furniture in disarray. Except they do this several times and coupled with Naya’s aimlessly wandering the hotel and walking in and out of the same rooms over and over what started as a slow menacing build becomes endless padding.
What begins as a moody slow build becomes just a languid pace, the viewer forced to wade through cinematic molasses only to discover their effort is for naught. Such is the lack of urgency in this film is that even when characters know they are in danger there it still takes them so very long to react to anything. Even when Naya is watching a full video recording that painstakingly explains every single detail of what is going in the hotel she ruminates on it for a painfully long time in what should be approaching the climax of the film. Even now knowing the truth she never gets faster than a brisk walk to stop what is going on. This is not this director’s first film, it is not even this director’s first horror film, so why is 308 just so unfathomably bad at being a horror movie? Just one viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining could have told the director what ahuge asset the hotel setting could be and I would have been all for him just stealing as much from that film as possible because it would have at least made 308 more interesting than watching paint dry.
308 is a disappointingly dull, overlong exercise in tedium. With 30 minutes of actual story liberally spread of two hours this film will test even the most devoted of fans. Avoid with prejudice.