Suffolk-shot Haunted Hotel film gets prime slot on Amazon from tonight

Dare we go in? Housekeeping, one of unsettling stories in The Haunted Hotels

Dare we go in? Housekeeping, one of unsettling stories in The Haunted Hotels - Credit: Film Suffolk/Haunted Hotel

Suffolk film-making is on a roll. Following from The Dig earlier this year and from Richard Curtis’ Beatles-inspired rom-com Yesterday in 2019, this weekend sees the release of a new Suffolk movie The Haunted Hotel on streaming site Amazon Prime.

Made for approximately £10,000 by Film Suffolk and with a cast & crew of over 100, The Haunted Hotel was shot at the historic –and atmospheric – Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich over two long weekends in the middle of a heatwave in July 2017.

Hugh Fraser in 40 Years, one of the eight stories in The Haunted Hotel

Hugh Fraser in 40 Years, one of the eight stories in The Haunted Hotel now available on Amazon Prime - Credit: Film Suffolk/Haunted Hotel

The film was created by the same team who had made the portmanteau feature film With Love From Suffolk. Producers Julien Mery, Nick Woolgar and Matthew McGuchan said that the multi-strand format provided the perfect platform for a wide variety of writers, directors, cast and crew to get involved.

In early 2017 a call went out for writers and directors to submit ideas for eight ghost stories (or tales of suspense). Nick Woolgar said: “Film Suffolk had access to the old Great White Horse hotel in Ipswich town centre and we thought it would make a wonderful location – somewhere with great built-in atmosphere but would also be a blank canvas for a variety of different short films which would be shot simultaneously in different rooms.”

The Contraption, strange things happen in The Haunted Hotel

The Contraption, strange things happen in The Haunted Hotel - Credit: Film Suffolk/Haunted Hotel

He explained that each film was assigned their own director, cast and crew and worked independently of one another. The stories were then woven together into a coherent film during the editing stage.

Matthew and Nick said that the secret of producing an engaging portmanteau movie – Love Actually is a good example of one such film – is getting the sequencing of stories right.

Matthew explaining: “It’s a little like a band working out the running order on an album. You don’t want similar tracks following one another. You want different sounds and textures to come through and it’s exactly the same with a film.

“We wanted to create atmosphere, we want to tell engaging stories, we wanted to lead the audience into the film, so each story gives the viewer a different tale in a different age in a different room.

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“Some are more light-hearted than others, while some are more straight horror and others are more about suspense. So you don’t want to put two of a kind back to back.”

Nick said that every director edited their own segment of the story but he made various tweaks as he wove the various pieces into the finished film.

The unsettling corridors in The Haunted Hotel

The unsettling corridors in The Haunted Hotel - Credit: Film Suffolk/Haunted Hotel

With plots set across eight different eras spanning more than 150 years, he said that the production design and costuming challenges of bringing The Haunted Hotel to life was immense. The rooms were bare and so everything had to be dressed with donations from charity shops including  Age UK.

Costumes were under the watchful eye of experienced costumer Mary Hunt who seemed to take everything in her stride - particularly when having to deal with so many periods at the same time.

Nick said that one of the benefits of shooting a film in smaller, more manageable chunks, over a limited period was that crew members could step up a notch. “Focus pullers could become camera operators, production assistants could direct, runners could become sound recordists. It could give them experience of the next step in their careers, put something on their CV and hopefully improve job opportunities down-the-road.

“This is what Film Suffolk is all about – giving local talent an opportunity to show what they can do. We are really proud that virtually everyone involved in the making of this film has strong local roots, local connections.”

Housekeeping, one of thr eight stories in The Haunted Hotel, shot at the Great White Horse in Ipswich

Housekeeping, one of thr eight stories in The Haunted Hotel, shot at the Great White Horse in Ipswich - Credit: Film Suffolk/Haunted Hotel

Many young actors were also gaining their first experience of stepping in front of the camera, aided by the presence of experienced co-stars like Woodbridge-based Hugh Fraser, who starred alongside David Suchet in Poirot  and Lowestoft’s Reece Ritchie, who appeared in such big budget movies as The Lovely Bones and Hercules.

One of the directors Jane Gull was also an experienced hand having made the indie-film favourite My Feral Heart in 2016.

Matthew added that Haunted Hotel has picked up awards at various film festivals which helped land them both independent distribution and a prestigious slot on Amazon Prime.

The atmospheric 'Watching', one of the eight stories to be found in The Haunted Hotel 

The atmospheric 'Watching', one of the eight stories to be found in The Haunted Hotel - Credit: Film Suffolk/Haunted Hotel

Among the awards they have picked up are: Best Horror Feature at Prospector International Film Festival, Best Horror Feature, Best Costume Design at Hex After Dark Festival (Canada), Best Feature Film, Best Actor/Actress (Reece Ritchie) at The Smokies Film Festival (UK), Best Feature Film at Couch Film Festival (US) and Special Jury Mention Award - Outstanding Supporting Performance (Hugh Fraser) at MLC Awards (US).

The segments of The Haunted Hotel are:
• Ghost of a Chance: A put-upon 1960s hotel manageress struggles to train a hapless new addition to her ghostly entourage.
• Devil Inside: In the present day, a gang of ageing thieves hole up in the derelict hotel, unaware of what’s in store.
• 40 Years: Set in the 1980s, an older gentleman returns to the hotel for an anniversary date with a twist.
• Housekeeping: A new hotel chambermaid in the 1990s is unnerved to discover the rooms have a habit of rearranging themselves.
• Room 27: In the strait-laced 1950s, a young couple plan a secret tryst at the hotel until ghostly forces intervene.
• The Contraption: Set in the 1920s, a young woman arrives at the hotel with a plan to prove that spectres are real.
• Watching: The young Charles Dickens struggles with his nerves while staying at the hotel in the 1830s and gets an unexpected visitor.
• The Writer: Set in the 1970s, a writer turns his hotel room into a devilish den of creativity.

The Haunted Hotel is available on Amazon Prime from Friday, April 2.
Watch the trailer here

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