After yesterday’s review of The Resort, you would think the last thing I’d want to watch would be a film called The Haunted Hotel, but here we are. Thankfully the two films couldn’t be more different, this being an anthology film composed of eight very English ghost stories all set in The Great White Horse Hotel.
The Great White Horse Hotel though now closed is an actual hotel and was visited by, among other notables, Charles Dickens. A less than flattering description of the establishment from his novel The Pickwick Papers opens the film. That’s fitting because the first segment “Watching” deals with Dickens’ (Reece Ritchie, 10,000BC, The Lovely Bones) visit in 1836. Director Jean Campbell Hogg and writer Daphne Fox spin a candle-lit tale of paranoia and inspiration that left me grinning.
We move ahead to 1985 for “40 Years”, written by Thomas Winward and directed by Joshua Carver. Tim (Hugh Fraser, Poirot, 101 Dalmatians) and Julie (Judith Sharp) celebrate their fortieth anniversary. Even if only one of them was there for all forty of those years.
“The Contraption”, is one of two segments by Amy L. Feeley in The Haunted Hotel. Here she directs Robbie Sunderland’s tale of Francesca (Angeline Hunt, Just One Blood) who plans to prove the existence of ghosts with state-of-the-art technology. Well, state of the art for 1924.
Partly humorous, partly frightening, it has an excellent segue into the next segment “The Writer” written by Feeley and directed by Joshua Dickinson (Opening Night of the Living Dead). Bestselling author Peter Fearless (Geir Madland, We Go in at Dawn) visits the hotel to work on his next book. But are the ghosts he finds in the room or in his mind?
“27b” is a tale of Eddie (Andrew Hollingworth, Pet Graveyard, Suicide Club) and Betsy (Molly Scurrell) a couple whose attempt to bypass 1952’s Puritanism takes a dark turn. Or saves one of them from a dark fate. Written by Victoria Manthorpe and directed by Adam Collier (With Love From… Suffolk) this is the most surprising, and best segment of The Haunted Hotel. The horror comes from an unexpected place and the segment’s end is not what you would expect.
“Housekeeping” is from Joshua Dickinson who directed “The Writer” and directed by the singularly named Deveril. It’s Maisie’s (Rocio Rodriguez-Inniss) first day as a housekeeper at The Great White Horse and she’s determined not to let a ghost push her around.
“Ghost of a Chance” sees the hotel as a 60s haunted attraction. Bob (Miles Jovian, Nazi Vengeance) however can’t seem to get the hang of his job much to the dismay of his boss, Mrs. Jones (Mel Winning). Paul Saxton and Jane Gull (My Feral Heart) give this an amusingly light touch, right down to its ending.
2019 sees The Great White Horse Hotel closed down and the perfect hideout for George (Paul Moriarty, Eastenders) and his gang of ageing criminals. But they’re not alone and they’ll have to face their past and the “Devil Inside”. Toby Roberts directs Stephen Henning’s script to end the film on a high note.
Actually, The Haunted Hotel doesn’t really have any low notes. All the segments are quite good, a rarity with anthology films, especially ones with this many stories. However, that doesn’t mean they’re all frightening. It might be better to call The Haunted Hotel a supernatural film rather than a horror film. Anyone looking for non-stop scares will be disappointed. There certainly are frightening moments, but there’s also a full range of other emotions packed into the film’s ninety-five minutes. And that sets it apart from many other similar films.
The Haunted Hotel was a collaborative project from FILM Suffolk and meant to serve as a showcase for some of the talented filmmakers working in that part of England. I’d say they’ve done an excellent job of it.