The Innkeepers Review
You know that expression less is more? Well director, writer and editor Ti West won’t make a film without adhering to this adage. No black cats catch our protagonists off guard, no hockey mask wearing sociopaths with mommy issues pop up, and there are no trappings of the torture porn genre to be found here. This is a quiet, patiently paced and well told horror film that channels a very retro, minimalist vibe. Depending on what kind of horror fan you are, this film might prove to be somewhat divisive.
The story takes place and is shot at the actual Yankee Pedlar Inn, a location which works because of it’s own real life history of hauntings. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy play Claire and Luke, two slackers who basically run the abandoned and soon to be shut down hotel. Luke likes Claire, and Claire’s too much of a tomboy and pseudo-geek to even notice. They fill in their last few days getting drunk, covering each other’s shifts for some much needed rest, and in between, they search the hotel in hopes of uncovering some proof to the infamous ghost stories.
A few guests come and go, adding their own touch of morbidity to the narrative, but for the most part, we’re stuck with Claire and Luke. Luke has a website he’s running based on the hotel’s haunted past, posting videos he and Claire record when they’re not bored out of their mind manning the front desk. If these two characters didn’t ooze palpable chemistry and act as human as they do, this movie would have been a failure. It’s the level of nuance Ti West has imbued everything in his story with, even the hotel, that makes this world so easily accessible, and therefore, that much creepier once the paranormal elements kick in.
Kelly McGillis plays a former TV star and the last guest to stay in the hotel. She broods, smokes and enlightens our protagonists as to what really transpired within those walls. She becomes more important later when it literally just becomes her, Claire and Luke against the antagonist, the hotel and it’s ethereal inhabitants. There’s a few more surprises linked to her character, but you’ll just have to decide for yourself if you’re interested in learning more.
I don’t know how most people will react to this film since the general audiences of today are trained to know what’s coming next in their horror films. When the bad guy lifts his knife and pauses, you know he won’t follow through. When a character looks in a mirror, you know they’re going to look back a few seconds later to see a ghost. This film gets rid of all the clichés and works on a much more modest and genuinely creepy level. If you’re tired of everyday horror film trappings, give this film a shot. You’ll either be bored to death, or completely absorbed.