Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Innkeepers and a Nod to Horror's Chilling Past: A Movie Review

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Director/writer: Ti West.

The Innkeepers is a co-production from Glass Eye Pix and Dark Sky Films. This title was released on video-on-demand December 30th before a theatrical release slated for February. The film stars Sara Paxton (The Last House on the Left) and Pat Healy (Rescue Dawn) in what is essentially a haunted house story. Ti West's (Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever) style of writing is very reminiscent of the '70s to '80s mode of horror filmmaking where tension is created by what is off screen.

Claire (Paxton) and Luke (Healy) play two hotel clerks at the Yankee Pedlar Inn where monotony and work go hand-in-hand. Nothing much happens at this locale with the Yankee Pedlar slated for closure in just a few days. Claire spends her working hours with an electronic voice phenomenon recorder. She sometimes hears a piano playing during the witching hour or a laugh will gently cackle across her microphone. Intrigued, Claire's youthful energy leads her down the wrong path. Soon she is searching for O'Malley's ghost, a woman who hanged herself in the hotel many years prior. Strange hotel patrons, a fawning Luke and an alcoholic psychic (Kelly McGillis) fill the time as The Innkeepers builds to a climax.

The protagonist in the film is arguably Claire. She is in most of the film's scenes and this character can be perceived as quite annoying initially. Her exhaustion after a dialogue with a lonely barista is a little dramatic. However, other reviewers were charmed by this character: "I was totally, mesmerizingly attached to Claire" (Blogomatic). It is kind of sad when film reviewers fall in love with film characters. Luke is ever the pessimist, or as he calls himself a "realist." He balances out Claire's exuberance with practicality and logic. Kelly McGillis as Leanne is a minor character who acts as a portal to the spiritual world more than anything else. All three of these character's lives are in danger.

And much of the tension from this film is developed from what you do not see. The mind can play tricks on the viewer as you may or may not expect a ghostly appearance in certain situations. West does provide a visual spook or two, but much of the mystery is created indirectly. A recording device might be picking up a ghost's presence or other hotel guests. Claire might be seeing a ghost or she might be trying to spook her friend Luke. What is real or not real is left up to watcher, until the final bloody conclusion.

The ending will not be revealed here. However, every long standing hotel or monument has its memories and not all of those reminiscings are joyful. The Innkeepers is a satisfying film. The pacing is slow and the climax is subdued compared to modern film pieces. Watch this film and enjoy West's nod to films of the past. Afterall, films of this style are disconcerting because of their ability to draw viewer's fears onto the screen.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (good acting, small film, lots of interior shots, a few characters, good writing, climax is supported by earlier scenes, tragic conclusion).

Visit the film's fan page for more details:

The Innkeepers on Facebook

Another review of this film is available at Blogomatic 3000 (Dan):

The Innkeepers Reviewed at Blogomatic

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