Directed by Jean Campbell Hogg, Joshua Carver, Adam Collier, Deveril, Joshua Dickinson, Amy L. Feeley, Jane Gull and Toby Roberts, written by Dickinson, Feeley, Daphne Fox, Stephen Henning, Victoria Manthorpe, Paul Saxton, Robbie Sunderland and Thomas Winward. An anthology of eight tales of ghostly encounters through the decades, manifesting amid the ruins of a once grand English hotel. Starring: Hugh Fraser, Reece Ritchie, Rob Jarvis, Paul Moriarty, Dominic Taylor, Kate Cook and more.
Anthologies are a tricky format to pull off well, trying to blend a number of different directorial and writing styles into one overall coherent theme is not easy but interestingly, this film achieves that too well. The styles gel together so much that it all feels as though it could have come from the same filmmaker, there isn’t a lot of personality to the different pieces to truly differentiate them from one and other, further than that which is done by the change in story. It becomes a bigger problem when there’s also no definitive tone, each one bleeds into the other creating something of a cheesy comedy feel which when parts try to pull away from that, it’s too late and ends up feeling non-committal. The resulting atmosphere that it builds sadly can’t pick a lane of what it’s trying to be so when it tries to add suspense or scares, they fall fairly flat.
It’s an issue that’s furthered by the writing, it’s lacking in sincerity because the attempts at comedy feel much too focused on a kind of old-fashioned sitcom, one-liner style to then get across any genuine emotion. There’s also an abundance of transparency, there’s no aspects of these stories that you can’t see coming and they struggle without an element of surprise, especially when a lot of them feel geared towards a reveal, which they can’t reach because you know it already. Some of it does also feel somewhat clumsy, there’s a few lines that trip over each other. It really needed a sincerity to pull off these stories but it sets the wrong tone and truly restricts itself from reaching the goal that its set.
There unfortunately isn’t much authenticity to be found in the performances either, they perpetuate that cheesy feel. The majority of them feel very put on, they simply don’t get across a natural presence to calm the over-eager atmosphere. However, that comes with one exception in the form of Rob Jarvis, an actor who will be recognised by anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time watching British television with his appearances in Luther, Collateral, Sanditon, Marcella and more. He’s underused in this case, he brings the singular convincing emotional moment that this film has to offer, it’s a shame that he wasn’t given a larger part as he had a lot more to add.
The Haunted Hotel was a good concept, horror is the perfect genre for an anthology and linking the stories together through one location over the years sounds great on paper but the end result feels far too much of the same to work. Setting out on a note of silly, cheesy comedy sadly began the downfall of this film, causing the rest of its attempts to strike at suspense, tension, emotion or scare to fall short. There’s no surprising twists or stand out personalities in its style, it’s ultimately missing an element to keep you plugged in.