The Innkeepers (2011)

I’ve wanted to see this movie since I first saw the trailer for it.

I was a little unsure of what I would think of it, as I didn’t care for Ti West’s Cabin Fever 2, and despite wanting to like his House of the Devil, I just felt that it was a little dull.

I loved that House was an homage to 80s horror films, set in the 80s, and featured some classic tunes by The Fixx, but I just kept waiting for something to happen, and when it finally did in the last five minutes or so, I was a little beyond caring, which is too bad because the last 5 minutes are pretty sweet.

However, with The Innkeepers, Ti West finds the balance between character, jumps, creepiness and fun that I felt was lacking in House (which I do plan to watch again and give it another shot).

The Yankee Pedlar is getting ready to close it’s doors, and the two young employees left to tend its last weekend, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) decide to spend it documenting paranormal activity and ghost hunting. It seems a young bride Madeline O’Malley was brutally murdered there… and has never left, haunting the hotel.

The two employees are held up in their investigations by a small selection of guests, a mother and child (who Claire tells spooky stories too – and then doesn’t understand why the mother gets upset with her), a washed up actor turned medium, Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) and an old man, who spent his honeymoon in the hotel (and I felt really saddened by his fate – no spoilers though).

The film isn’t scary, so much as it is creepy, and it definitely comes down on the side of creepiest hotel film since The Shining in my book.

The two leads play pranks on one another (the first one when Luke shows Claire a video recording is awesome), laugh, and drink, which alternately puts you on edge or laugh out loud.

The poster to the left definitely plays up this more fun aspects of the film, while the one up top indulges the creepiness.

Sara Paxton’s Claire is a fun character, a twenty-something stuck in a dull job, and tries with Luke to make the most of it.

The camerawork is very well done, with slow pans and dollies through the hotel, always making you wonder when or if something is going to happen. And where in House of the Devil, there’s not a lot of payoff to those shots, this film, more often than not, pays off each and every time.

The only real drawback I had to the film was that anytime something spooky was going to happen, or the filmmakers wanted you to think it was going to happen they introduce a bass rumble to the film’s audio track to make you uneasy and jumpy, which is too bad, cause I think the film could’ve done that on its own.

This isn’t a horror movie for you and your friends to see and chat with all the way through, this is something to cuddle up with someone on the couch, turn the lights off, and submerge yourself into the experience of the film. It works really well that way.

If Ti West continues making films like this, establishing atmosphere and creep factor instead of going for the easy jump scares (though there are a couple of those in this film, but they work because the atmosphere is there), then I’ll be watching them.

I highly recommend this film for someone who wants something a little different from the run of the mill horror films, and is willing to let the story, the characters, and the atmosphere creep you out, as opposed to gore, and endless cheap scares.

I had a lot of fun with it, what did you think of it?



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