Horror (Thriller)Rated: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy
Directed By: Ti West
Rating: 6 out of 10
An old Inn is about to be closed due to lack of business. Two employees conduct some paranormal experiments to try and catch a ghost during the inns final days.
Remember the days when taking a black light to the sheets was the scariest thing about staying in a hotel? The Innkeepers is the story of the Yankee Peddler Inn. Two employees (Claire and Luke) are working during the inns final days before it closes forever. They are determined to find out about the inns sinister past and if any ghosts still reside on the premises.
Kind of like a piece of abstract art, I have no idea what I just watched. I watched The Innkeepers without fully understanding what this film was trying to be. Was this trying to be scary? Was it trying to be campy? It flip flops between the genres so many times that I was left wondering if director Ti West is a genius, or just doesn’t know what he is doing. Whatever the answer is, I was entertained by this movie and that is all that matters. The film opens up and we see Claire as she arrives at the Yankee Peddler Inn for her final shift. Just a few short days remain as the hotel is shutting down due to lack of business. Her and fellow employee (Luke) take shifts at the virtually empty hotel, and hold down the fort while investigating for ghosts. Not much happens for the first half of the film. There is the odd predictable fright and Claire and Luke’s conversations are rather dull. It is just the vibe of the film that I dug. With just a few strange people staying at the old hotel, the quiet and the emptiness work very well to set up the story. Odd noises and sounds emanate from different rooms in the hotel, and Claire and Luke use ghost hunting equipment to try and capture the phenomenon. An unsubstantiated story of a murdered bride at the hotel only adds to the nervous tension of finding these spirits.
The acting was decent in a hilarious, over the top kind of way. Claire is played by Sara Paxton and all I could think of was Ferris Bueller’s sister (played by Jennifer Grey) with her performance. Her goofy facial expressions, running up the stairs like a madwoman when she hears a noise, and just her overall social awkwardness when dealing with people, was a very odd route to take with the character. It was odd but it worked somehow. Luke was played by Pat Healy and he was also solid in a socially awkward type of way. The two of them have an almost brother/sister type relationship as they play pranks on each other and have lame inside jokes. It is strange seeing such weird lead characters in a film that is supposed to be chilling, but I liked it. The few strange people staying at the hotel can only be classified as random but effective in their roles.
As the film carries on and the amateur paranormal investigations dig deeper and deeper, Claire and Luke might think there may be more to the murdered bride story then they originally thought. Unseen entities loom in the dark, doors bang on their own accord, and warnings to stay out of the basement go unheeded. The film is effective because you never know what is going to happen next. The ending will leave most people saying WTF, but I felt it fit with the rest of the film. In conclusion, this film is not particularly scary and certainly isn’t gory. The characters are ridiculous and not in a humorous way. There are a lot of unanswered questions that are left, and the ending will bother most people with its incompleteness. And after all of those complaints, I still enjoyed this film for some reason. The tone of the film just felt right to me.
Director and writer Ti West was unknown to me until I read about him at MovieFemme@blogspot.ca. The jury is still out on if I like his style or not. What I think he did well: His camera work was fantastic in this. Long sweeping shots and unique angles really captured the nuances of this empty hotel. It gave each scene an element of tension and creepiness which I enjoyed. The casting and the tone were also great for a smaller budget film. What he didn’t do well: The film takes a very long time to get going. The makeup and scares were a little cheesy, and the reactions to them were also misguided. Films don’t always need proper closure but they should be cohesive, and he also failed in that department. Lastly, they have been working in the hotel for years and all of a sudden things get CRAZY on the final weekend?
I give this movie a recommendation, but heed my warnings as it is more for style than substance.
T Factor + If you like campy element to your horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like lots of blood and high body counts in your horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Cabin in the Woods, Cabin Fever.