The film follows a pair of amateur ghosthunters (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) who use their dead end job, working the desk of a failing hotel, to flex their muscles as supernatural investigators. But what they find, is a little bit too much for the both of them.
I was very impressed by Ti West‘s last flick, ‘The House of the Devil’, and it really made me wonder just what he was going to do next. Once again, it’s pretty much the same thing around except no 80’s cars and hair-styles, as well as no more jams from The Fixx. Waaaah!
What West does well here that he did with his last flick was that he takes time to build-up to the actual by actually developing these characters and giving them enough back-story for us to actually feel something for them when all of this crazy ish is happening to them. We see how these two are terribly bored with their jobs and it’s actually kind of amusing to watch them go around, play little pranks on each other, and just talk about the hotel and its history. This was definitely great to see West allowing us to know these characters but even when they are just goofing around, there still is a lot of mystery and tension going on because you don’t quite always know what’s really going on behind those closed doors.
When the horror does come though, West makes it all work again with a very tense and dark atmosphere. Even though many moments in this film can be incredibly happy and light, West still keeps to his whole creepy tone with plenty of scares that take more time to get you rather than just throwing out a whole bunch of jump-scares (even though there is one, that’s used as a joke). The scares also work because of the insanely loud noises that come from this score, which isn’t as noticeable as another film that came out this weekend, ‘The Woman in Black’.
I think my favorite element of this film when it came to its horror was its setting in the real-life hotel, The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Conneticut. The Inn isn’t huge nor is it some place you could get easily lost in but the film never leaves the place (except for one scene) and the whole time you feel as if you are trapped in there as well with all of these creepy and mysterious happenings going down. It’s still around today and definitely not haunted but I think I may just go there one of these days and give it a shot myself.
My problem with the flick is that even though the horror does come after a very long period of time, for some reason, I still felt like there should have been more of it. The last act is where everything really goes crazy but I still felt like West didn’t allow things to get too crazy and it just felt like a bit of a let-down considering how much time it took to build things up. I will admit that it definitely didn’t go as bonkers in its last act as West’s last flick did but I think that’s where I was bummed considering the pay-off was a lot better there.
Another thing I was sort of annoyed by was that it seems like all of these low-budget, small horror films all seem to have the same kind of protagonists no matter what. All of the protagonists in their flicks seem to be those sort of weird, hipsterish, non-normal people that always have to be quirky and do different things than anybody else would normally do and it’s almost like a cliche now. I mean after awhile I kind of got past it, but it seems to be something that happens in a lot small horror films lately and it’s not really that cool to do in the first place.
Despite them being overly quirky at times, I still found the two main characters to be likable and people I could very much just hang-out with. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy are both very good here and play these two slackers very well because they aren’t annoying and they aren’t really trying too hard to be funny or hip, they are just bored to death of this job but when it seems like their lives are in danger, they seem scared. They seem like actual people almost and the film takes enough time for us to really get to know them and it made me wish that I was actually there with them when all of this shit was happening, because I think it would have been a lot of fun in the first place. There are only a hand-full of other guests that come into the house but the one that sticks out in my mind is 80’s forgotten-hero Kelly McGillis who seems to be having a come-back of sorts and hopefully it continues because she’s very good as this strange but bitchy old actress, Leanne Rease-Jones.
Consensus: Although it’s nothing new that we haven’t seen done before from Ti West and doesn’t fully supply a huge amount of scares as you may think, still, The Innkeepers has a good build-up by developing its characters and setting, as well as providing us with just enough tense moments to make West the definitive horror director to watch in the upcoming years.