L’auberge-ensorcelée (The Bewitched Inn) is a horror short from 1899, if you believe the Internet Movie Database, or 1897 if you put your faith in many other sources. I notice that IMDb give 1899 as the release date in the USA so it seems probable that the film would have been released much earlier than that in France, so 1897 sounds about right to me. Either way, this short film is an interesting piece of cinematic history.
The film, shot under the direction of Georges Méliès, is just over two minutes long and begins with a traveller entering a rented room at an inn. The poor bloke should have saved his money though, or gone somewhere else, because the room is haunted and things start going wrong the second that he steps foot inside it. He puts his bag on the bed, glances away for a second, and when he looks again his bag has gone. Then his hat is thrown off the chest of drawers, lands on the floor, and starts sliding around the room. The man seems rather annoyed, but the invisible forces at work in the room are only just beginning to get warmed up. His candle disappears and then reappears that the other side of the room. Then when he lights it the candle explodes. His jacket flies around the room, the chair disappears when he wants to sit down and the bed does the same when he tries to turn in for the night. Something tells me he won’t be staying there again.
L’auberge-ensorcelée is an amazing little film. The flmaker’s art was in it’s infancy at the time, but Méliès still managed to achieve some very clever effects that must have amazed cimema audiences at the time. It is not, by any means, a shocking or frightening film. It is more fun than anything else, but most experts class L’auberge-ensorcelée as a horror film, so that is my excuse for adding it to the site. Anyway, enough of this, just click play and watch the thing for yourself.