Friday, December 23, 2011

The Innkeepers (2011)

Fear 5/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

Rounding out my top 'must-see' list of 2011, The Innkeepers, alongside Insidious, is one of the best haunted house films released within the past decade. I hope a resurgence is coming within this sub-genre. If this film as well as the aforementioned are any indication, it is one still rife with fresh ideas and plenty of new ways to make us freak out about thumps and bumps in the night.

Claire and Luke are the caretakers of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a storied hotel in a small, quaint, town. The pair are just as essential and vital to the story as the haunt for which the inn is known for. Luke is determined to get video evidence of the ghost, a woman who hung herself years ago on her wedding day when the groom ditched her at the altar. Claire is along for the ride and equally as eager (if a little skeptical). But their time is limited. You see, the inn is closing and the weekend is all the time that they have left. 

At first, the only guests are a woman and her son, staying for a few days after a marital spat. But then a couple of interesting characters show. First, an old TV actress who's now a new age mystic-type. Claire is fond of her and instantly star struck. Later, another guest (an old man) pays for one night and insists on a particular room  despite the fact that it's on a floor that's in the process of being torn down with rooms that are now very bare bones.

The pair conduct their ghostly investigations nightly and don't capture much at first. The inn, just like all great haunted house films, is a character unto itself. The classic kind, like the Overlook or the asylum in Session 9, one which adds just as much to the proceedings as the actual haunt and cast of characters themselves. Things soon get going as the requisite bumps and thumps are experienced and Claire begins to have terrifying nightmares. Or are they?

Claire seeks the guidance of the mystic and she in turn reaches out to the spirit to find out just what it is that they want. And it's not a happy message that's received as multiple spirits are revealed. Despite her warnings of not venturing into the basement of the inn, Claire and Luke do so anyways and come face to face with the inn's main attraction. Our film ends tragically as the spirit exacts her deadly revenge and makes it known, that, even though the doors are closing to the inn for good, she'll always be around.

With charming, funny and engaging characters, The Innkeepers is sure to be a classic entry into the haunted house sub-genre. Filmmaker Ti West is phenomenal at creating tension and pulling off genuine scares and they are in number here. Along with that, his slow burn approach is utilized here as well to great effect. I can't say enough about it and I'm glad I was able to see it before the year closed out.

You can check out The Innkeepers on various VOD services beginning on Dec. 30th.

Cortez the Killer


Jenn said...

Hi Cortez! I love you and happy holidays. But.....

I want everyone to stop kissing this movie's ass just because we've been inundated with press releases in our inboxes. Ti West does not make good movies. THE ROOST was fucking awful and HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was as boring as paint drying. I haven't even seen THE INNKEEPERS yet and I'm already bored.

But.....I will see it and let you all know my opinion, as if you cared.

(I've had wine and am sassy on Xmas eve eve).

Planet of Terror said...

Sweet sassy molassey!

I genuinely loved this film and believe me, I'm not one for kissing ass because I received a free screener or I was sent a ton of PR emails (I rarely post that stuff). I wasn't a huge fan of The Roost. It was OK for what it was. I loved the House of the Devil: fantastically paced, great atmosphere, and a killer ending (I know this is a sticking point for some).

I think you'll dig it but if you aren't a fan of West's style, you may not. But this was a fun creeper.

Happy holidays to you and yours Jen!

the jaded viewer said...

I'm in agreement with CTK. I thought House of the Devil was OK but thought Innkeepers had a good balance of laughs and jump scares.

Ti West is a mixed bag so we'll see where he goes from here. Listening to a Q&A, West said he wanted to see the non typical characters in a haunted house story and Claire and Luke are just that.

I'm curious now what other horror bloggers will think of this film.

Mike Snoonian said...

I like the cut of Jenn's jib.

I'm going to have to give this film a second look when it plays theatrically next week. I loved The Roost and ranked House of the Devil as my top film of 2009, so under normal circumstances I enjoy West's work.

Something about this film just felt off to me. Maybe i wasn't expecting the emphasis on comedy at the expense of horror and suspense. The performances are terrific across the board, the film looks gorgeous and I enjoyed the score. I just found myself slouching in the sofa cushions rather than sitting at the edge of my seat for much of the film.

Emily said...

As you know, I really WANTED to like it but I ultimately just felt like Ti West was more attached to his characters and setting as a filmmaker than I was as a viewer. Alas.