Director: Ti West Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy & Kelly McGillis Synopsis: “During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.” Runtime: 101 minutes
“Lets go to the basement, and find out what that fucking ghosts problem is.”
The Innkeepers is an odd little movie, coming across as part comedy and part horror movie but never really hitting the mark for either and therefore leaving its audience somewhat at a loss to know what to take away from the movie. Don’t get me wrong, it does some things really well and creates some good dramatic tension in places, but it leaves you with a slightly dissatisfied feeling that more could have been made of this Clerks meets The Shining supernatural horror.
The Innkeepers tells the story of two hotel workers, Claire (Paxton) & Luke (Healy), who are running down their final shifts at the Yankee Pedlar Inn which is due for closure, and is also haunted by the ghost of Madeline O’Malley. Claire & Luke are wannabe ghost hunters, packed only with an EVP machine to chronicle their findings, whilst Luke also runs a blog detailing the haunted history of the hotel. They fill their boredom at the hotel by trading stories and cracking wise with each other. Occasionally someone will walk through the doors and actually request a room, but as this is the Pedlar’s last weekend of business, custom is few and far between. That is until Leanne Rease-Jones (McGillis) requests a room for the weekend. Jones is a former actress now turned clairvoyant who is in town for a convention.
The story is the definition of a slow burner. Everything takes its time to unfold, and depending on your point of view, you will either be pleased with the amount of time given to characterisation or you will be wishing that things would move along a little faster. I for one was pleased with this approach as I feel the characters are quite charming and it’s a joy to get to know them, even if the film does feel like it is plodding along at times. As so much time is spent building character, the scares are few and far between for the first two-thirds of the film, which again is likely to infuriate some viewers who may start to think they are not even watching a horror film after all.
As the film moves along we begin to feel more sympathetic to the lead characters. Both have been let down in life, both are single and essentially without a job soon, and with no prospects both their futures look a little bleak. However, they are both charming in their own unique ways, and with their odd little quirks that endure them to the audience, the tension filled final act packs an extra emotional punch that can sometimes be found lacking in horror movies.
Having said that, The Innkeepers can be a frustrating film to watch at times. The slow build can test your patience, and the lack of genuine scares for a large part of the movie will have you wondering if anything will actually happen in the movie beyond the general activities of the staff and guests at The Yankee Pedlar Inn. I have a feeling the film will play better for horror buffs & film aficionados who will appreciate the slow build up and tense pay off, over the general film fan who will likely cry foul and say the film is just not scary enough to be classed as a good horror movie.
One thing I must add though, without wishing to spoil anything mind, is that you should pay close attention to the final scene of the film before the credits role. You may not see it first time, I certainly didn’t, but there is a very subtle moment cleverly done that once you see it you will wonder how you ever missed it.
In summary: A good but never great horror film, from a director who will surely be a big name in years to come. The Innkeepers will likely frustrate you at times, but if you can be patient with it, the film has a genuine payoff that will stick with you long after you’ve watched it.