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Marina Antunes [DVD News 04.30.12] horror thriller

Ti West seemed to explode onto the scene in 2009 with the release of House of the Devil, an old school horror flick that had nearly everyone, including our very own rochefort excited (just check out his review of the film from Fantastic Fest). The film never opened nearby and though it was on my radar as something to eventually catch up with, it was pushed onto the backburner when folks started raving about West's follow-up The Innkeepers (again, a very positive review, this time from our Toronto correspondent). Already a movie behind, I completely gave up on the prospect of catching up with either of West's films in a timely manner but when the opportunity came up to see it on DVD, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. The result is a mixed bag of feelings.

It's certainly a nice change to find a horror movie, a ghost story no less, that for the most part strays from the gore drenched movies so popular today. The Innkeepers is just that: an old school horror movie with some jump scares and great mood building but ultimately, I found it unsatisfying, especially so hot on the heels of Hammer's The Woman in Black, another, and in my opinion, more effective horror movie that also relies on classic horror scares.

The story takes place during the final weekend of The Yankee Pedlar Inn. The owner's gone on vacation and left the hotel in the hands Claire and Luke, two employees that seem more interested in hunting for ghosts in the old place than actually doing their jobs. With only a few guests checked in, they set into a lazy weekend of drinking, ghost hunting and barely taking care of the place. The Inn is apparently haunted by the ghost of a previous owner and on this final weekend Luke and Claire are going to get proof, at least Claire seems determined to get proof, but when they get too close to real ghosts, Luke goes running off and Claire is left with a curiosity to quench. Obviously things go sideways but the film's final turn may not be exactly what one might expect.

For the most part, The Innkeepers is a mildly entertaining thriller, the kind of thing I could see a group of pre-teens watching from under a blanket much the same way I first discovered The People Under the Stairs and though West builds great tension and musical queues, I found myself a bit bored by the whole thing. Things certainly get interesting in the final twenty minutes but the lead-up, which focuses mostly on Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) and their awkward friendship (it's immediately clear that Luke wants to be more than just friends), is mostly boring, punctuated by a few genuinely interesting moments.

I'm certainly loving this mini-trend of classic-style horror movies but this particular entry, though having many admirable qualities, didn't exactly get my blood pumping. That said, I'm now even more curious to check out House of the Devil to see if West delivered with that movie or if his style just doesn't work for me.

The Innkeepers is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, May 1st.

DVD Extras: Commentary with Ti West and producers Peter Phok and Larry Fessenden and 2nd unit director/sound designed Graham Reznick (a great commentary considering how important the editing and sound design is to the film's overall semi-success), Commentary with Ti West and stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy and a behind the scenes documentary.

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j.j. (10 years ago) Reply

I agree - it was very nicely done but not very scary and the writing at the end was sloppy (I can't say why as it would be a spoiler). It is based around one character desperately trying to flee the hotel, then the next morning they are still there, and finally around the way the police behave at the end. That's all I can say. Nicely made but nothing to change-up horror. 6/10 for me.


Lenny (10 years ago) Reply

Def check out HotD, I liked it way more. But really just because of the subject matter they both are very similar retro horror flicks. Hopefully HotD will be a little more satisfying.

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