Five Star Murder (2023) Review
You would expect a movie called Five Star Murder to take place in a five-star hotel, and it is set in The Libertine Grand Hotel, a luxury hotel on the Georgia coast. In its penthouse, it has a reproduction of Gauguin’s painting “D’où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?” After he finished painting it the artist took poison in an attempt to kill himself. The hotel’s designer, Louis Laurent, died in front of it after drinking poison, though nobody knows if it was suicide or murder.
Today though, the hotel’s staff has a different crisis to deal with. A hurricane is about to reach land and there’s a mandatory evacuation order. But several guests are refusing to leave, There’s Harold (Ted Ferguson, The Hopewell Haunting, High Moon) and Joan Steele (Jill Jane Clements, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Dark Red). She would evaluate, but he refuses to believe it’s that bad.
There’s also an influencer Rose (Kimberly Blake, Twisted House Sitter 2. Twisted House Sitter 2) who is totally into the idea of some hurricane sex with her boyfriend Dylan (Darrell Snedeger, Watchmen, Here Kills the Bride). There’s also Quinn (Quinn Bozza, Lost Cause, No One Can Hear You Scream) a “vagabond by choice” and Caroline (Damaris Lewis, Titans, Limitless) who is a bit of a mystery. Since they refuse to leave two of the staff Brianna (Rachel G. Whittle, Don’t Look Back, Ghoster) and Marcos (Adam Ignacio, (Will Trent, Romantic Rewrite) are forced to stay as well.
Director Jose Montesinos (From the Depths, Sinister Minister) and writer Chris Retts (Last Will and Ted, Wade in the Water) deliver a first act that makes Five Star Murder look like one of those old made-for-network TV disaster movies. But then they give it a twist, Laurent allegedly hid a fortune somewhere in the hotel, and the guests who stayed had come looking for it. And where there’s a hidden treasure, there’s bound to be a murder or two.
For a Tubi Original, Five Star Murder is actually quite well done. The plot is fairly familiar, but there are plenty of motives scattered around to keep things interesting. There’s the treasure and the fact several of the guests have connections to Laurent himself. One ruined their marriage by having an affair with him, another is related, etc. Money, lust, and revenge, all things that will drive a person to murder.
The cast, while lacking any notable names, is actually better than average for one of these films and makes their characters as likable, hateable, or suspicious as the script needs them to be. Montesinos and cinematographer Alexander Yellen (Assault on VA-33, Piranha Women) make the most of the hotel’s hallways, stairwells and the ominous flooded basement and keep the sensation that the characters are almost always in jeopardy.
While it functions nicely as a thriller with disaster film elements, as a mystery Five Star Murder does fall a bit short as there are never really enough clues to guess who the killer is, or if there is just one. And at times there’s uncertainty over whether there is a single killer, it’s one of the couples working together, or if it’s a daisy chain of murders. At one point I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the minor characters from the opening scenes had turned up hiding in the building. Thankfully, the script doesn’t resort to that kind of cheat.
If you’re looking for a fun, somewhat lightweight thriller, Five Star Murder is a solid choice. And just as it’s set in a five-star hotel but was filmed in the three-star Partridge Inn, it has a five-star title and a three-star rating.
Five Star Murder is free to watch on Tubi wherever the service is available.