In the horror genre, there’s always a plus when a film gets to play out in a real life location, and the place, finds itself directly involve in the storyline, and therein lies The Innkeepers, from director, writer and editor Ti West, set in Yankee Pedlar Inn, Torrington, Connecticut. This time there is no found footage or even a mad slasher, rather a ghostly tale, of a bride-to-be’s suicide haunting the inn, and terrorizing the guests supposedly.
The film, centers on the final weekend of the hotel’s existence not just closing for the season but forever, and slowly things are dying down, the third floor already shut down and on sadly only four rooms in use, two by the limited staff and the others occupy by mother and child, the last book under reserved name. As for the staff, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), both tireless wasting away their own existence and amateurish ghost hunters determined to discover evidence of the inn and the ghost that haunts it. The last guest arrives, Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) as an actress who left the television business and specializing as psychic, a tad too cliché for the film, but she does a stunning performance for the film, has vast knowledge of the inn, more than what they know, private little details. However, one chilling moment comes from the old man (George Riddle) and he does bring much of riddle (pun intended) to the story, and pleas to stay in a certain room, the honeymoon suite.
West provides a slow burn to the film, a tempting to build suspense, and have character development, dreadful lacking pace, that could turn many horror fans off, as they are conditioned to a hurrying pattern, of instant gratification, while ghostly tales work best with the chilling factors allowed to grow to a explosive conclusion. The movie splits itself into three clear acts, the first portion controls the mood, the dread of the workers painstaking dull job, the second act provides conflicts between the workers and guests, with moments of dialogue teasing truly listen for them, hinting the closeness of the ghost and the final act brings together an old fashion horror flick. A cheap but practical easy gag gets the unsuspecting audience, the bucks the system of standardized horror, and provides a fun and good film. Also, since director and actor, who heads Glass Eye Pix and Dark Sky Films served as the production teams for the venture of West’s the movie does bring some smart moments to the screen.
Now, sadly there are a few downsides, one previously mentioned the ungodly slow pace, so cancel out the torture porn fans, the lack of bloodshed, therefore minus the gorehounds, no found-footage and nothing zombies, and nowhere near exploitative, so the elimination of those diehards, leaving serious horror fans, seeking new films to enjoy. This film enjoys the inn, allowing it to speak volumes, and sadly, it finds itself unable to speak, lacking the proper words to say BOO! While the movie on a whole earn praise it failed to make back the budget which leaves one wondering where the error lies, and likely the more PG13 and no true scares, until the very end, and of course the painstaking slow build. The style worked for The Others (2001), What Lies Beneath (2000) and The Haunting (1963) but then again those target audiences welcome them, this leans to the teenager market. West tries to use tactics of Stanley Kubrick and display them with power of The Shining (1980), where character grow with the story, and not sectioned off, from the involvement of the surroundings. Lastly the close out scene, unsure the intended reasoning behind it, the scare never comes, leaving us the audience to wonder what the point was.
The Innkeepers is a basic fine horror movie, it hints at the required boxes on a checklist, and yet misses the intended audience by miles, suspense wasted at many key moments, and yet rushes the final 20 to 30 minutes. West normally has excellent manipulation skills over the production and the audience, this time, the chef, was not manning the station correctly, the final meal boiled over ruined a fine haunting tale experience.