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 involved in the storyline, and herein 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 supposedly terrorizing the guests.
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 sadly only four rooms in use, two by the limited staff and the others occupied by a mother and child, the last booked under a reserved name. As for the staff, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), both tirelessly 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 a 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 a 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, attempting to build suspense, and have character development, however dreadful lacking pace, that could turn many horror fans off, as they are conditioned in a hurrying pattern, of instant gratification, while ghost tales work best with the chilling factors allowed to grow to an 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, the movie does bring some smart moments to the screen.
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, but sadly, it finds itself unable to speak, lacking the proper words to say BOO! While the movie on a whole earned 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 the character grows 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.
For those that like to visit both paranormal locations and places that actually used in films, sad to report this update as in the movie the hotel is closing down permanent resulted in real life too, with the inn closing in December 2015 for major renovations but by May 2018 doom and gloom of not reopening.
This review originally posted on the now defunct Rogue Cinema site, in September 2015 with a view count of 1,524 views.
IMDb Rating: 5.5/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10