This Halloween, the spirits are restless and things that go bump in the night are closer than they seem for Chris, a widower who is coming to terms with his loss. While living in his hotel, strange things begin to happen. Voices in the night and faces at the window are not uncommon and things are about to get a lot worse when he is forced to face the paranormal and save his wife’s soul from the evil spirit of her killer
So as the opening credits roll, I see written/directed/edited/produced/starring…and it was the same name. I know what you’re thinking. I realize that sort of credit roll is a kind of red flag. Normally, I would agree. To be honest, it wasn’t great. But I have to admit the film works on some levels, enough to make it watchable.
Our story focuses on Chris (played by the aforementioned multi-credited person, Russ Diaper). One year before the events of the film, his pregnant wife was killed by a madman in the hotel Chris and his wife own. Chris abandons the place after that to try and get his head on straight. it’s only because of his brother Mark ( Rami Hilmi) that Chris returns to the hotel after all this time and tries to get it back up and running.
Mark has hired a caretaker named Henry ( Paul Kelleher) to keep things in some sort of order during Chris’ sabbatical. Henry is an odd bird, to be sure. Still, never walk away from equity, right? Mark convinces Chris that the hotel is still a viable money maker and he really needs to get back on the horse.
So Chris moves back into the hotel and starts renovations. But he keeps having nightmares, and he hears crying babies in empty rooms. He starts to see shadows and hear voices, and decides he must sell the place to save his sanity. of course, Mark has other ideas. He offers to bring in a psychic to walk the place. That doesn’t help Mark’s cause very much.
Weirdness escalates and soon even Mark is convinced that there is something horribly wrong with the place. Too late for Chris, though, who now has to face whatever posesses the hotel alone.
Researching the cast and crew of this film, I found that that all of these actors have some really great experience. Unfortunately, this film represents a very early project for some of them. Specifically Russ Diaper ( who has since changed his name to Rusty Apper for whatever reason).
There are a lot of freshman mistakes in this film. The sound is terrible. Never use real room sound, folks. Also, the lighting is severely lacking in a lot of places. I get the “dark is creepy” concept, but many of these scenes could have stood with some light augmentation and they would still have worked.
And while many of these actors have done some great stuff since, in this film they really just didn’t deliver in performance. I mean, how much “sitting pensively while rubbing your face” can any one actor do? A lot, if you judge by this film.
However, the news is not all bad. The story is actually quite good. I couldn’t help but see it as a sequel (of sorts) to The Shining, with shades of Inception and 13 Ghosts thrown in for taste.There are a lot of loose threads and plotholes, to be certain. It’s not perfect. But it really plays out like an old school ghost story from the age of 70s grindhouse…without the blood and boobs.
Visually (other than that lighting thing I mentioned), there’s some really good stuff going on. They have a beautiful location, including a simply gorgeous victorian era graveyard, and they use those locations to the full advantage. Some very creative camera angles are used, perhaps by necessity as I know from experience how hard it can be to get a good shot in the tight hallways and small rooms of an old home.
There is very little in the way of special effects in this film, but what you do get is quite good. There’s a lot of “jump and boo” type scares, like in a haunted attraction. Special effects were done by a company called Nightmares, inc. I tried looking them up but found a lot of companies using that name.
For me, the whole film is worth the time it takes to watch to see Paul Kelleher as Henry the caretaker. He is simply brilliant. Russ Diaper grew up as a fan of Hammer Horror, and this character is written perfectly within that paradigm. Paul Kelleher really sells it to the back row and it’s wonderful to watch.
It’s not the best film ever made, but there’s something about it that makes it entertaining. There’s a lot of heart and love for the genre, and it clearly shows. I enjoyed it for what is was, or more to the point, what it represents. The filmmaker’s love for the art of horror is obvious.
So on a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 5 candles.