Friends often ask me to recommend indie horror films on Netflix Instant. (American Netflix, sorry!) Now I can just send…
A ghost story for the minimum wage.
A horror-thriller centered on the last two employees at a haunted hotel that's going out of business.
For some, director Ti West, is the saviour of the horror movie; a referential filmmaker who harks back to the glory days of the genre. For others, like me, he makes rather tedious, drawn out films that are devoid of terror or originality. The Innkeepers is more of the same, a film that carefully pays homage to the past masters whilst putting no new spin on proceedings. It is a movie that suffers from all of West’s usual problems, so wrapped up in the set decoration and ambience of the location that he practically forgets he is supposed to be making a horror film that might actually be scary.
A rundown hotel is a perfect location for a ghost story,…
"It was a night much like tonight.... Here at the Yankee Pedlar Inn... The night was dead silent and the breeze cool and crisp. The ornate wood carvings, elegant paintings and oak smell in the ancient halls bore witness to a great tragedy. Death. Now the dark halls are said to be haunted by the weeping spirit of Madeline O'Malley. She wanders the Yankee Pedlar in her tattered wedding gown with rolled over eyes. They say you can still hear her cries in the night..;"
"And don't forget.... Never go in the basement...."
Sound like a old fashioned ghost story? Good. That's the point.
Ti West has been a guy that I've been growing increasingly fond of after I've had…
While trying not to go insane in the wait for CHEAP THRILLS, I needed a Pat Healy fix so I thought I'd check into the Yankee Pedlar Inn for a 4th or 5th time. It's great when actors of his ilk are afforded meaty roles and can flex their chops for more than a couple of scenes. One of many reasons why this strange horror genre is so precious. Ti West has a habit of getting really good performances out of his cast. See also about 5 of his THE SACRAMENT actors.
Every time I watch this, I'm drawn in by the adorable Sara Paxton (also in CHEAP THRILLS. Fuck). She is central to proceedings, but the friendship her character has with Healy's is by far my favourite aspect of the film. Natural, believable and enough to carry a film on its own.
But I like the spooky stuff too.
Ok, so this one's a bit of a mess.
I love a good ghost story as much as the next person, especially when handled right. Personally I love it when the focus is on things unseen, thus building atmosphere from which the suspense comes. (a thing Paranormal Activity and the classic The Haunting did so well). It doesn't need to be graphic or gory, but can be if dosed correctly.
Another approach I like is the over the top, light hearted fun approach, like in The Frighteners, or maybe even The Ghostbusters. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by the start of this film. Its poster and synopsis seem to suggest a full out scary ghost story, but it actually…
I've said it and I've written it before, but it must be said and written again. Sara Paxton is absolutely incredible in this film. Her performance as Claire is so fully fleshed out that it is basically impossible to separate the actress from the character now. All of her awkward mannerisms and quirks are perfection and I really hope that Paxton has a long and fruitful career. I'm completely honest when I write that her performance is one of my favourite performances ever.
Another winner for Mr. Ti West. Very effective. The slow build makes for many intense moments. I like that he isn't afraid to take his time.
Enjoyed Pat Healy's totally credible, lonely Internet troll schtick, and it's spot on in its depiction of drifting mid-twenties disinterest, Paxton running from a purchased latte if it includes engaging in vacuous small talk with the local barista, or flipping out because someone asked about her life's plan. Doesn't really have a scary bone in its body, and West's mission statement forces me to focus on his abstinence from contemporary contamination, the slow-burn committal nearly ousting the thrills altogether.
Truffaut once said it's not possible to enjoy a film shot in the house where you were raised, because you're always thinking about how they replaced the wallpaper. I had a little of that feeling during the ghost movie "The Innkeepers," which reminded me of the much-loved Boulderado in Boulder, Colo. The movie is shot almost entirely within the (real) Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Conn. Both hotels are said to be haunted. I know someone who knew nothing about the Boulderado and saw a ghost standing in the closet of Room 506 — and when we told the desk clerk, she said the ghost my friend saw matched the descriptions of earlier guests.
Cue the "Twilight Zone" theme music.…
After viewing Ti West's comatose retro pastiche House of the Devil my expectations for The Innkeepers were profoundly low. Though it shares many of Devil's major flaws - a jarring, rushed ending being the main offender - sterling character development and Sara Paxton's charming performance almost manage to turn the movie's languid pace into an advantage. I could've gladly watched these two dropouts mooch around with recording equipment, searching for spirits that may or may not exist for a full 90 minutes.
What really jars here is the horror itself. The tone of this movie is an odd one. Although its reverence for slow burning haunted house classics is apparent, at times it reminds me almost of a light-hearted 90s…
Just plain old boring.
I love the vibe of this film. It looks as if it's lit by natural light (it isn't) yet has a clean, beautiful shine to it. This lighting realism grounds us in the film and allows the comedy and scares to play as larger-than-life highlights from a real world. Fun film.
The Innkeepers works as the perfect follow up to Ti West's previous evocative horror The House of the Devil. Almost every stitch of that film was based on some sort of retro hook, which as an experiment to see how much of a bygone era could be recreated, worked quite well. Although there are improvements, West runs into some of the problems that prevented his previous attempt from actually being anything more than a pastiche.
What he crucially corrects this time is the casting, enabling the first half to create an unsettling air around the characters. Again The Innkeepers is based on the directors undoubted affection for retro horror and, again, he sets out to recreate a modern day version…
The buildup is painfully show and not much happens but Ti West's direction is rather skillful.
Ti West ... why?
I'm just curious, is there a reason why absolutely nothing happens until the last 20 minutes of your films? At least The House of the Devil built an atmosphere. Here, you have failed to make a hotel even slightly creepy. An empty hotel. One of the most basic settings of the horror genre.
Sure, the finale picked up my heart rate ... a bit (partly out of anger, IF SHE'S NOT ANSWERING YOU, ASSUME SHE'S NOT IN THE BASEMENT YOU BERK), but then it just finished and I realised that it was even more of a let down than The House of the Devil . And then I realised that I'd wasted just over 90 minutes of my life. And the money I'd spent buying this shit on DVD.
Why did I do that, Ti West? Why??
Not even sure why I attempted watching this given how much I've hated everything else I've seen from Ti West so far (peaking with his insultingly moronic M For Miscarriage short) but I guess I'm forever a hopeless optimist when it comes to horror and the premise (couple of bored employees searching for ghosts on the night shift at a spooky old hotel) seemed reasonable. How wrong I was.
As usual, nothing happens. Like, literally, nothing. I'm all for slow burns but Ti West doesn't get what makes them work. He just takes out everything - story, action, characters, themes - until all you've got left is an actor (or in this case two) delivering meaningless banter for an hour,…
- All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
- Alyce Kills
- The Seventh Victim
- The Devils
- Carnival of Souls
- The Perfume of the Lady in Black
I must confess, I wouldn’t be as much of a movie fan as I am now if it weren’t for…
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
- The Thing
- The Shining
- Black Christmas
A list of the very finest horror films I've ever seen.
I refrained from including certain films - even ones…