In the much-anticipated horror sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining, there’s an early scene in Doctor Sleep which showcases a white, two-story hotel that is revealed to be in Florida. As the character Danny Torrance remarks, he and his mother moved to Florida after the events in The Shining because “we both hated snow.” Filming was completed at the Riverview Hotel in St. Mary’s, Georgia which sits less than two miles from the Atlantic Ocean coastline. However, there is something unusual about filming scenes for a horror movie at a hotel that is actually reputed to be haunted itself.
The area of St. Mary’s itself is considered quite historic with original inhabitants to the area around the future hotel site being the Timucuan Native Americans. Later in the 1500s the area was explored by the French and eventually Spanish explorers as well. The Riverview Hotel was originally built back in 1916 by the Brandon Family, a trio of goodnatured sisters who developed a reputation for being hostesses that wowed visitors with a combination of southern charm as well as fine southern cooking. Situated right on the banks of the St. Mary’s River, a bustling ferry is nearby to shuttle those curious to Cumberland Island. Over the many decades of operation, there have been guest stays at the hotel where people have walked away with tales of the paranormal.
Is the Riverview Hotel Haunted?
Room Number 8 is said to be one of the most active rooms at the Riverview. Interest was piqued by a guest during a threatening coastal storm and the entire hotel lost all power except for Room Number 8 where no known technical explanation could ever be found. In fact, a hole was actually cut into the wall next to the bedside lamp because electricians could not figure out how a corded bedside lamp was getting power despite the rest of the hotel being powerless. The spirit in this room has manifested to some guests over the years and is believed to be a predominantly male spirit, though confirmations are fleeting as he disappears as soon as approached.
Room Number 8 isn’t the only paranormal activity witnessed though, shadows have been seen all over the entire hotel. Guests have noticed certain travel toiletries being stacked, arranged, and moved in unusual positions, and even sometimes have had the feelings that there’s a spirit watching them in the room. And in something straight out of the horror film Paranormal Activity, a woman staying at the hotel said the bed covers were pulled off her multiple times during the night despite nobody else in the locked room and even at one point an unseen spirit fully tugged at her leg shaking her awake!
The historic and small town area of St. Mary’s has enjoyed a recent boom in coastal tourism and stays at the Riverview Hotel are said to be quite pronounced during the holiday times especially. Given the probably poltergeist activity at the Riverview, it sounds like the producers of Doctor Sleep chose the ideal place to shoot scenes from their film there.