It was a full 45 minutes after the closing credits of “Monday at 11:01 a.m.” had rolled, and I was still thinking about the high-concept, low-budget horror thriller. Not because I couldn’t get it out of my head, but because it was only just then starting to make sense.
Set in a remote mountain hotel, where a couple has gone for a romantic getaway, and where a series of increasingly bizarre events and encounters takes place, the film is better in contemplation than in execution. Its 11th-hour twist ending — which actually makes sense, although it’s initially a little hard to swallow — is the kind of thing you could imagine reading if O. Henry wrote horror. It simultaneously pulls the rug out from under all that has previously transpired, while rearranging the events you’ve just witnessed in a different light.
I’m just not sure that it works as a movie (or as this movie, at any rate).
[Confessions of a film critic: She hates horror]
“Monday at 11:01 a.m.” stars Charles Agron as Michael, who has just checked into the Grand Pollard Hotel with his girlfriend (Lauren Shaw), at 11:01 a.m. on a Monday. This is worth noting, since whenever the day or time comes up again, it’s always Monday at 11:01 a.m.
File that one away under “Huh?” The surreal plot element, along with the apparent murder-suicide that opens the film, in prologue, is just one of a cascading progression of inexplicable occurrences you must hold in your head, including the behavior of an alternately forgetful and hostile bellhop (Sam Clark); the cryptic ministrations of an oracular bartender (Lance Henriksen); and the lascivious come-ons of the town’s femme fatale (Briana Evigan), who seems to know Michael, although he claims never to have met her. Add auditory hallucinations by Michael and a cabal of Druids in hoods and antlers to the mix, and you have a recipe for near-utter incomprehension.
That all this will be explained in the last five minutes is scant recompense for the difficulty of sitting through a film that is not just overacted and overwritten (by Agron) but that also only gets worse before it finally — thankfully — gets better. Inspired, according to Agron, by “The Twilight Zone” and the works of Stephen King, including “The Shining,” “Monday at 11:01 a.m.” would probably work well as a half-hour television episode or a short story.
As a feature film, unfortunately, it feels a bit like clock watching.
R. At area theaters. Contains violence and coarse language, including sexual references. 96 minutes.