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Spanning decades and decadence, ‘The Haunted Hotel’ is a place for everyone

The independently produced British film features seasoned veterans faces, new stars and a familiar thriller setting alongside unique storytelling

By Freddy Moyano

Actors Hugh Fraser (left) and Judith Sharp are a few of the seasoned screen veterans who grace one of the eight stories housed inside “The Haunted Hotel.” Photo courtesy of Livid Films / Film Suffolk / Nick Woolgar Films

“The Haunted Hotel,” a 95-minute tape completed in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2020, has something for everyone.

The film features eight separate stories all swirling around the life (and death) of a hotel and its varied patrons, past and present.

Without revealing too many plot points, the film’s atmosphere showcases how dated hotels are great vessels to carry several stories. Each separate story occurs in different decades along 150 years, with a well-thought-of wardrobe fitting each period.

In “40 Years,” one of the featured short stories, Hugh Fraser plays a soldier chasing after a fleeting dance with his fiancee. Best known to many as Captain Hastings in the worldwide hit TV series “Poirot” (1989-2013), Hugh’s voice and well-paced demeanor is a welcome sight to the audience and his onscreen companions.

Through my life experience growing up in Europe and living in the United States, I’ve noticed a difference between European actors and some of their US-based counterparts in what pertains to screen acting. British actors Cary Grant or Roger Moore come to mind. Moore’s screen presence and delivery made him a steadfast actor. Few actors in the US could rival Moore’s talent (Marlon Brando aside). Fraser is another good example of this.

Hugh’s beloved counterpart, Judith Sharp (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2”), had a strong performance as well.

Reece Ritchie (known for action-packed roles in “Hercules” or “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) was a refreshing sight as he changed into a nightgown playing a shy Charles Dickens reflecting in one of the hotel rooms.

This segment, titled “Watching,” featured tasteful yellow and dark color tones throughout, a wise amalgam that paired well within Dickens’ times exported to the dark corridors of the hotel.

Scene-stealing performances from new faces like Richard Bates and Roderick Smith were welcome among the seasoned cast. Smith kept the plot rolling with his pacing and his compelling—but borderline comical—facial expressions throughout his section.

Geir Madland delivered a highly remarkable performance in his role of an alcoholic writer, Peter Fearless. Surrounded by the dark tones that worked well earlier, Madland’s performance outdid that of many of the stereotypes and tropes that plague the “troubled writer” role in many modern horror and thriller films. Director Joshua Dickinson and writer Amy L. Feeley helped craft Madland’s sharp performance in the featured short “The Writer.”

There are almost no clichés in this feature-length, independently produced film. The horror element lingers, but it remains a low priority throughout. Instead, the characters in each story are well-hinged for the most part, making me want to get to know more about each individual.

In “Housekeeping,” Rocio Rodriguez-Inniss plays Maisie, a housekeeper who keeps the audience guessing. Director Dickinson fuses Wes Craven’s style and dips into imaginary realms developed in the Elm Street saga.

Before watching “The Haunted Hotel,” I had in mind Scott Kennemore’s masterpiece novel “The Grand Hotel.” Kennemore sets a different world in each room of an iconic hotel with surprise ingredients towards the end.

After watching the movie, I was pleased to find elements of surprise in almost every story.

Rather than relying on pointless, failed spook attempts, “The Haunted Hotel” tells stories packed with opposites, ups and downs and the yin and yang of life in a century-plus old hotel. The film is an entertaining tape that can be enjoyed any time of the year—not just when jack-o’-lanterns are a dime-a-dozen.

The film features veterans of the industry with new faces on both sides of the camera, making a worthwhile experiment—which is what independent filmmaking is all about.

“The Haunted Hotel” is available on Amazon Prime Video and other online platforms.

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Freddy Moyano has spent almost two decades in Northeast Wisconsin working as an actor, voiceover artist, film editor and entrepreneur. Moyano has produced over 20 motion pictures and earned international recognition such as Best Nature/Wildlife Film Jean Luc Godard Award in 2020. He is the founder and a director of Green Bay-based, international film festival, MLC Awards. Find more information about Moyano and the MLC awards at www.mlcawards.com and www.imdb.me/freddymoyano.

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