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The Innkeepers – 7

Director – Ti West

Cast – Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, George Riddle, Alison Bartlett, Lena Dunham, Jake Ryan, John Speredakos

Release Year – 2011(VOD)

Reviewed by John of the Dead

After making a name for himself with slow-burner horror films The Roost and 2009’s The House of the Devil, Ti West returns with one of the best horror films of 2011(VOD)/2012 in The Innkeepers. Once again blessing us with a slow-burner in the vein of 80s horror, Ti West delivers another positive horror experience that comes with not only more laughs than usual but also great horror as well. Fans of the supernatural will be glad to see Ti West taking a shot at the paranormal, a shot that he gets right – proving that he is here to stay as one of horror’s best modern day auteurs.

It’s the final weekend of existence for the Yankee Pedlar Inn and the employment of its two employees, Claire(Sara Paxton) and Luke(Pat Healy). Both have a heavy interest in the paranormal, and with their boss out of town they seek to expose the hotel’s haunted past – a past that is brought to light when strange guests check in for the weekend.

I have always given Ti West props for his good direction, but after viewing this piece I must also give praise to his ability to write a damn good story. First off: the setting and the overall elements involved in the story are fantastic. We have an old spooky inn that is near closing, so if anything crazy is going to happen it has to happen before the weekend is over, and with our protagonists being ghost adventurers of sorts you can bet your arse we are going to get some good spooks before the credits roll. The story does start off a bit slow, typical of West’s work, but unlike his other films we are given a fair amount of comedy thanks to the quirky antics going on between Claire and Luke, which aided in keeping my interest until the horror surfaced. I admit that there were several times where I literally laughed out loud over what was going on, and much to my surprise there were simple yet crafty jokes that I never saw coming nor would have experienced in the horror genre. Once the first act is over we start receiving our first bits of horror as strange/odd guests begin checking in at the hotel, which just so happen to coincide with strange events that occurred and are still occurring at the old inn. Our protagonists employ some of the usual paranormal detection equipment, which despite seeming lame was not very lame at all, and was used to full potential given it not only proved a paranormal existence in the inn but angered whatever presence there was. Most of the horror is fairly subtle during the second act, however once the third act kicks in the horror hits the viewer with full force and delivers lots of enjoyable spooks and results in a climax that I not only found a bit unconventional for the genre but pretty enjoyable too for that reason. There are a few faults in the storyline here and there, mostly having to do with a few useless characters (the estranged wife hiding out at the hotel), and of course the fact that I wanted more horror during the earlier acts – which I know by now is just the way Ti Wests writes, but still.

West’s direction rivals his writing, expertly executing his story in high detail and securing my attention for the entire 100 minute experience. The character play between Claire and Luke is fantastic, with both Sara Paxton(Shark Night 3D, The Last House on the Left remake, Return to Halloweentown) and Pat Healy(Rescue Dawn, Ghost World) providing excellent performances in unique and quirky fashion – which I would expect from two crafty innkeepers with nothing better to due but surf the web and consume vegan products. Their chemistry was fantastic and provided for much of the “fun” feel the film brings, even during the scariest sequences. Speaking of scary, Ti West gave me some delightful scares that I was not sure would be made present due to the “fun” feel of this piece, but he showed his established prominence as director in giving us a harrowing third act that contained all the horror I need to find this film and enjoyable one – although I did want more horror. The look of the ghosts was great, especially the older gentleman, and West’s camerawork made for some pretty good scare sequences without actually showing anything, a tactic perfected by Sam Raimi and other greats decades ago. The sets used were fantastic and provided a nice spooky feel to the film, and throughout the entire piece I marveled at his cinematography and crafty camerawork that seems to come naturally to this awesome director.

Overall, The Innkeepers is one of the best horror films of 2011 and once again proves Ti West has what it takes to solidify himself as a genre filmmaker.  The storyline is great and highly-engaging thanks to many unique elements going on, and his direction sells the storyline and the horror involved in equally engaging fashion.

Rating: 7/10

  1. February 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Love some Ti West. Nice review.

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