ACACIA MOTEL is a new horror movie dealing with the very current issue of immigration. Unfortunately, it does so in a very strange way. Both due to supernatural elements but also by making it very unclear where these things are happening. Full Acacia Motel review here!

Acacia Motel is a new horror movie with a very international production. The language is primarily English, but none (or very few) of the characters are native English speakers since we’re dealing with immigrants. However, it’s never made entirely clear where or when the events of the movie take place.

Also, while I think the supernatural element could have been interesting on its own, I do not understand why the two (immigration and a supernatural folklore element) have been combined for this movie.

Continue reading our Acacia Motel review below to find out more about this horror movie.

A very international production

The production is a joint effort which means the movie is officially from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Croatia. Still, it somehow seems to be dealing with the immigration struggles in the US, which is very strange to me.

I should mention that we have seen some amazing movies from every one of the Asian countries mentioned above. That’s exactly why my expectations for Acacia Motel were not low. However, that quickly changed as the movie progressed into something rather strange.

The basic plot of immigration (even combined with something supernatural to represent the inhuman circumstances) has so much potential. It seems like it was greatly wasted for the purpose of making this movie, which is a damn shame.

Acacia Motel – Horror Movie Review

The international cast of Acacia Motel

While the names in the credits of Acacia Motel might not seem familiar, the faces should. One of the main characters is portrayed by Jan Bijvoet who can be seen in the Netflix series Into the Night right now. We loved that series and particularly enjoyed Jan Bijvoet – even though his character was often very annoying.

Also read: Our Season 1 review of the Netflix series Into the Night here >

In Acacia Motel, Jan Bijvoet looks very different and this time he is more of an evil beast than just a somewhat strange man. In that respect, the beginning of this horror movie works very well, since you should be intrigued by his character, which is the father of JC.

JC is the main character, and he is portrayed by JC Santos. That’s not someone I’m very familiar with though he does have a rather impressive resume on IMDb. Just not many movies in our preferred genres. None that have had big international releases, in any case.

However, I am quite familiar with Bront Palarae, who plays an important supporting character. Bront Palarae was in the amazing horror-mystery Satan’s Slaves by Joko Anwar, which we highly recommend.

You should definitely check this out: Our 5-star review of Satan’s Slaves which screened at Fantasia >

Also, Bront Palarae was in the Malaysian episode of HBO Asia’s horror anthology Folklore.

Watch Acacia Motel on VOD now!

Bradley Liew directed and co-wrote Acacia Motel. He’s a Malaysian-born and Philippines-based filmmaker, who is just getting started. I can appreciate the basic idea of this movie, but I don’t think it worked very well as a whole. The production quality and (most of) the acting definitely did work, so there is good to say about this movie as well.

The screenplay was written along with Bianca Balbuena, who also co-wrote his previous movie Singing in Graveyards (2016).

When I read about this movie – and even when it began – I had high hopes for what it could turn out to be. Unfortunately, it lost me along the way. I saw all the major plot twists coming a mile away and cared less and less about the main characters as the story progressed. That cannot have been the intention or wish of the filmmaker. I certainly wasn’t what I wanted.

Acacia Motel is out on Digital HD and VOD platforms on May 22, 2020.


Director: Bradley Lieuw
Writers: Bradley Lieuw, Bianca Balbuena
Stars: JC Santos, Jan Bijvoet, Agot Isidro, Nicholas Saputra, Bront Palarae, Vithaya Pansringarm, Talia Zucker, Will Jaymes, Perry Dizon


A young Filipino man, JC, is groomed by his tyrannical Caucasian father to take over Motel Acacia, which is tasked with exterminating immigrants by the government.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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