'The Damned'

A scene from "The Damned." (Handout)

The horror thriller "The Damned" reconfirms one cardinal rule: When the grizzled proprietor of a crumbling inn in the middle of nowhere tells you that the joint is closed, take a hike.

Though that may seem like pretty basic advice, it conveniently escapes the obtuse quintet at the center of this crummy shocker.

Worse, when these ill-fated folks discover the inn's last guest checked in — and perhaps never checked out — in 1978, they still stick around. Now that makes them stupid and stubborn.

There's no one more so than the group's de facto leader, David (Peter Facinelli). He's a widower who has schlepped down to Colombia to bring back his vacationing 18-year-old daughter, Jill (Nathalia Ramos), in time for his impending wedding to fiancée Lauren (Sophia Myles). Also in tow: David's TV reporter sister-in-law, Gina (Carolina Guerra), and her cameraman — Jill's passing squeeze — Ramón (Sebastián Martínez).

But when a grimy child (Julieta Salazar) is discovered locked away in a dark recess of the spooky hotel, all hell begins to break loose once she's revealed to be someone — or something — other than she appears.

A kind of deadly game of tag ensues as our quintet, the desperate innkeeper (Gustavo Angarita) and a local cop (Juan Pablo Gamboa) end up battling a crazed supernatural force with a centuries-old legacy of destruction.

Director Victor Garcia builds momentum, if no great tension, as the mayhem progresses. But the script by Richard D'Ovidio is so packed with knuckleheaded moves and ultra-obvious dialogue ("Dad, there's something wrong with this place!") that the whole enterprise proves more risible than frightening.

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"The Damned."

MPAA rating: R for bloody horror violence, nudity and brief language.

Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.

Playing: At Arena Cinemas, Hollywood. Also on VOD.