The Hotel Gula, stately, luxurious and abandoned for over twenty years since the food for a party’s banquet was seasoned with rat poison leading to the painful death of everyone in attendance as well as the owner’s suicide. It’s hardly the kind of place that would need help to appear haunted.
But less than ten minutes into The Ghosts of Monday that’s exactly what Bruce (Julian Sands, The Ghosts of Borley Rectory, Death Rider in the House of Vampires) the host of a ghost hunting show, is suggesting to the property’s new owners, Frank (Anthony Skordi, Catch-22, Limbo) and Rosemary (Maria Ioannou, Waiting Room, Forbidden to Die). This does not sit well with the show’s director Eric (Mark Huberman, A Dark Song, Vikings: Valhalla). And the last thing this production needs is more tension, Eric’s ex-wife, and Bruce’s daughter, Sofia (Marianna Rosset, S.O.S. Survive or Sacrifice, Portrait of God) is also part of the show’s crew.
Of course, the hotel is haunted and it’s not long before people are sleepwalking, seeing visions of the past and the rest of the show’s crew, producer Anna (Kristina Godunova), camerawoman Jennifer (Flavia Watson, Mod-X, Christmas in Palm Springs) and sound girl Christine (Flavia Watson, Animals, Jurassic World: Dominion) are getting them on tape.
Francesco Cinquemani (Vote for Santa, Beyond the Edge), directs a script he co-wrote with Andy Edwards (Zombie Spring Breakers, The Vampire of Soho), Barry Keating (Killer Mermaid, Embryo) and Mark Thompson-Ashworth (The Hyena, POE 4: The Black Cat). And despite the large number of writers, The Ghosts of Monday actually gets off to a fast and efficient start.
The viewer is quickly filled in on the hotel’s history, the various conflicts between the cast members and character traits, such as Bruce’s incessant womanizing, that will probably come back to haunt them, perhaps literally. We also see enough to know that there is indeed a presence in the hotel, and a sense of dread starts to build. Cinematographer Pau Mirabet (Girl Next, The Quantum Devil) and composer Christina Georgiou (Duma, The Viper’s Pit) give that atmosphere some visual and sonic boosts as well with a prowling camera and ominous score.
But, just as it seems that this is going to be an atmospheric ghost story, there’s an Argento inspired murder in a glass elevator and the film goes off in another direction. It’s a jarring shift in pace as well as tone, but as I’m more partial to 80s Italian horror than I am to slow burn, I was mostly OK with it. It also helps that, unlike many films that start out slow, The Ghosts of Monday doesn’t get lost in the characters’ personal drama and forget it’s a horror film. It may be abrupt, but it ultimately makes sense, sort of.
Despite most of the characters beyond the leads being poorly developed, the cast does a good job of making them sympathetic or sinister as needed. Unsurprisingly Julian Sands steals the show as the slimy Bruce. As an added bonus it’s a decent-sized role, not just a quick appearance to put a name on the poster.
While it’s not a particularly original plot, there are enough original touches that the film doesn’t feel like yet another rehash of old ideas. It also helps that the filmmakers made good use of the hotel’s opulent guest quarters and the claustrophobic steam tunnels and service corridors underneath them. Almost all of The Ghosts of Monday unfolds within its walls and getting it to look either quietly or overtly meanacing at the right times help distract you from how familiar it is.
As long as you don’t mind the abrupt change from The Overlook Hotel to Seven Doors Hotel, The Ghosts of Monday should make for a good weekend watch. Unless you’re actually staying at a hotel that is.
Cleopatra Entertainment will release The Ghosts of Monday on DVD and to VOD and Digital platforms on January 23rd.