Sort of a mix between The Queen of Versailles and The Art of the Steal, as a couple buy a massive house and plan to turn it into a hotel only to get battered by the recession. The sheer hopelessness of their financial situation would be perhaps too depressing if not offset by the part amusing, part infuriating battle with their National Trust neighbours. This is becoming a go-to area for docs these days (see also You've Been Trumped) but usually works because it is easy to relate to, even if the property in question is not. I would have rated this fairly middling if not for the final third, which was really quite affecting and bumped up my score a bit.
Helen Heraty and her partner John Edwards decide to buy a 72-room mansion in York, northern England, but then discover to their cost that renovating it proves prohibitively expensive. Eventually the task is accomplished, but at what cost? John dies of a heart attack, leaving Helen to manage the place on her own. Ostensibly about the effect of Britain's economic crisis on individuals, HOTEL FOLLY is much more about the consequences of hubris; hubris on Helen's part, as her obsession with trying to renovate the property blinds her to everything and everyone around her. The smallest things begin to affect her - for example, the dispute with the National Trust (her immediate neighbors) over the courtyard in front of her property. Rather than negotiating a settlement, she prefers to adopt an aggressive approach with inevitable consequences. The film has a certain macabre fascination, as we watch Helen becoming embroiled in conflict after conflict, while desperately trying to raise money from any source she can, but she is fundamentally an unattractive personality. You feel sorry for her family; her seven children, the poor animals (who become more and more neglected) and the luckless John trying - and failing - to cope with impossibly stressful situations.