TWILIGHT HOTEL by Ra X, Michael Aryn, and Darrell and Shawn Smith is a four-volume horror series following the less than harmless past and present of a 100-year-old hotel. Previously a plantation, the hotel sits on blood-soaked grounds, a memory of the atrocities that occurred a century before.

But with such cruelty comes karma. After real estate tycoon Calvin Pennyworth III buys the property and builds the stunning art deco-inspired hotel in the early twentieth century, he begins making sacrifices to an ancient deity known as “she,” who clings to the suffering of the land.

Brought to life by brothers Darrell and Shawn Smith, along with writer Ra X,  TWILIGHT HOTEL is the first project of their recently formed entertainment company, Square Biz Entertainment. Their recent Kickstarter campaign for the comic was a success as well with over $8,000 in backer funds.

twilight hotel
Image courtesy of Michael Aryn

A Morbid Start

We enter the story through the eyes of Virgil Lee Petty, the maintenance supervisor at the Twilight Hotel. Although seemingly uneventful at first, the subdued hues and ghost-like haze signal something much more sinister. The smoke from Petty’s cigarette swirls around establishing shots of the setting as he adjusts lamps and doorknobs. Michael Aryn’s artwork is painterly and unsettling, giving texture and realism to an otherwise uncanny tale. The story then pulls the rug out from under you with the supposed gruesome death of Petty. However, even after an unruly bathroom door beheads him, his noggin still has some things to tell us nonchalantly.

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Image courtesy of Michael Aryn

We learn of the hotel’s troubled past, as well as “she,” the ageless being who lives far below the hotel grounds. As for the plot, the story is quite compelling. “She” controls everything, pushing men to do her bidding by forcing them to live through their worst nightmares. Her presence permeates the pages and provides motives for the countless murders at the hotel, which is a magnet for awful people. TWILIGHT HOTEL vol. 1 firmly establishes these facts and suggests more bloodshed is on the horizon.

Although I do appreciate the upfront nature of this first volume, prologue-like beginnings have never been my cup of tea. Petty is the most prominent character at this point, but we don’t know much about him other than his relationship with the hotel. However, now that we have a solid foundation, I think the rest of the series will pack a mighty punch as we don’t have to question much of this world’s logic.

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Final Thoughts on TWILIGHT HOTEL VOL. 1

According to TWILIGHT HOTEL’S Kickstarter description, the comic is “reminiscent of classics like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and TALES FROM THE CRYPT,” which is indeed an accurate comparison. TWILIGHT HOTEL breaks the fourth wall in similar ways, addressing the reader directly. This makes for a more immersive reading experience as if you’re part of this story’s world as well. There may be many moments of gore, but they aren’t gratuitous, nor do they take away from the story itself. The humor from the narration lightens the mood as well.

Image courtesy of Michael Aryn

I’d recommend TWILIGHT HOTEL to anyone who enjoys classic horror, particularly of the Hitchcock variety. Dark humor, gritty art, early twentieth-century aesthetics, and an immortal foe combine to make one fun comic with much more to come. Anyone who gets queasy at the sight of blood and gore should steer clear.

TWILIGHT HOTEL VOL. 1 by Ra X, Michael Aryn, and Darrell E. Smith
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
TWILIGHT HOTEL VOL. 1 is a gory prologue that sets up the story to come. With ancient beings and brutal deaths, this comic isn't for the weak of heart.
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