It's a given that the barmiest universe has to have some relationship to reality, even a tiny one. No matter how far "The League of Gentlemen" or "Monty Python" career towards utter madness, there is always the recognition factor, the cause of our laughter. Unfortunately first-time director Terence Gross, who is certainly not short of visually arresting ideas, specialises in things happening for their own sake so that more often than not we wonder why a character behaves in a certain way or what the reason is for a particular situation. Even in the obvious strangeness of a self-enclosed universe (an island hotel stuffed with strange residents and lorded over by an out-to-lunch mummy's boy), no opportunity for weirdness is passed up with the result that every relationship, encounter, conversation and gesture is resolutely absurd. This is both unconvincing and lacking in impact: if Gross wants to emphasise oddness, then he should mix it in with normal moments.
And yet it is probably the admirable originality of the script which delivered grand talents like Toni Collette, Daniel Craig, Katrin Cartlidge and Peter Vaughan to a first-timer, who is much more gifted at creating individual scenes than constructing a narrative. Class actors, of course, can rise above a bumpy script and so Daniel Craig, as the intense, determined hotel chef, Toni Collette as his returning girlfriend who brings with her the outside world, and Katrin Cartlidge as the sister squashed by her insecurity, all take their opportunities to shine. But through the mummy's-boy manager (Stephen Tompkinson) the film ends by pigging out on silliness. Still, at least Terence Gross has ideas.