Friday, October 11, 2013

Shocktober Review Revisited: The Innkeepers

  (2013 note: So I didn't realize that I never reviewed The Innkeepers, but only included it during a year-end list. It pretty much covers how I feel about the film - it's not quite on par with The House of the Devil, but I do still like it a lot and I think the characters are better developed.) 
The Innkeepers - From Ti West, the director of The House of the Devil, comes another slow burn horror film where tension continues mounting and the sense of dread is palpable. Instead of replicating the horror of the early 1980s, West's "haunted hotel" follow-up is set squarely in the present, and he's just as adept at creeping you out with slow tracking shots, suggested noises, and believable characters you relate to. Sara Paxton's Claire is a young woman without much of a clue what she want to do or be, who becomes way too interested in Luke (Pat Healy)'s hobby: ghost hunting. She's fixated on finding the spirit of Madeline O'Malley, a bride who killed herself in the hotel in the 1890s.
 On the last weekend that the Yankee Padler hotel is open, Luke and Claire trade off shifts, watching over the last remaining hotel tenants - former actress / new age guru Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) and a mysterious Old Man (George Riddle) - while they hunt for evidence of O'Malley's presence. West doles out the scares slowly but surely, and only towards the very end do things go the way most horror films go. In fact, if there's any fault to be found in The Innkeepers, it's that what comes before and after the climax of the film are undermined ever so slightly by what we know HAS to happen, even if the subtle clues of why it happens don't always add up. Without spoiling too much, I can say that the film is an example of the kind of movie 1408 could have been, one that eschews cheap histrionics and trickery and deliberately ratchets up the "willies" factor.
 Fans of The House of the Devil are going to find a lot to love about The Inkeepers, but if you like your horror fast and relentless, this may seem a little slow for your tastes. For me? Let's just say I had to watch something else after I finished it, because I wasn't going to bed.

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