The Haunted Hotel – Film Review

I have just the pleasure of watching a preview of The Haunted Hotel, produced by Film Suffolk and shot on location in Ipswich at the Great White Horse Hotel. Here’s my review.

Made for approximately £10,000 and with a cast & crew of over 100, The Haunted Hotel drew filmmakers and creatives from all over East Anglia (UK) to the Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich to create a portmanteau feature film with a truly local, independent spirit (no pun intended).

A once-grand hotel that was name-checked by Charles Dickens in ‘The Pickwick Papers’, the now-abandoned building provided the blank (and rather dilapidated) canvas for 8 original tales from local writers who responded to FILM Suffolk’s callout for ghost story scripts. With plots set across 8 different eras spanning over 150 years, the production design and costuming challenge of bringing The Haunted Hotel to life was immense. When it came to production, the film was shot in two intense 5-day shooting blocks, with multiple productions working side-by-side within the catacomb corridors and rooms of the hotel. Established stars such as Reece Ritchie (The Lovely Bones, Hercules) and Hugh Fraser (renowned as Cpt. Hastings alongside David Suchet’s Poirot for many years) worked alongside a whole host of brilliant cast and crew to bring to life the vision of our 8 segment directors (including Jane Gull, director of indie hit ‘My Feral Heart’).

Each short story has its own flavour, style and time period, with particular credit to the set design, decoration and costume teams. There is enough variety within the eight segments to keep the pace interesting, with well presented and genuine characters. You are kept guessing as to which sub-genre the story is but the constant in each of the stories is the hotel itself including the recption desk and stairs. I wondered if the stories could be interlinked more with all eight stories being shuffled together but I’m sure the narrative is much clearer this way with each episode running (but not in chronological order).

Spoiler free highlights for me (and the names of each episode are listed only in the credits) are the young couple after the war, the traumatised writer, the special effects of the ghost detecting contraption, room 116 and the Rentaghost style comedy of Bob the ghost!

The biggest win for me is the winning combination of sound design and music which really heightens the mood, tension and shock at times (and comedy at others!). These have been created by a number of well known artistes including Frazer Merrick, Jason Frederick and Richard Kett, all connected with my work at University Centre Colchester through lecturing or studying, along with the main three producers, Nick Woolgar, Julien Mery (Course Leader for BA Hons Digital Film Production) and Matthew McGuchan and writer/director Amy Feeley. A number of other colleagues, students and friends appear in the credits list including Molly Scurrell (below), playing a young woman in the 1950s/1960s. Congratulations to them all.

To summarise, The Haunted Hotel is a great film exploring the different sub-genres and time periods but with one constant character: the hotel itself. The film is available from April 2021 on a number of streaming platforms.

Watch the trailer below – and check out the website and social media pages for release info.

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