johnlink ranks THE INNKEEPERS (2011)

This is the sort of thing I usually find on Fear Net. Instead, I stumbled upon this  movie on Amazon Prime through my seldom used XBox. I have the ap free through August, and there are several solid films in HD I want to catch before it goes away, including THE MISSION and MELANCHOLIA. But, for one night anyway, I needed something requiring no thinking, and less engagement. How’s that for an endorsement?

I watched THE INNKEEPERS (2011) on 7.18.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

I don’t know anything about writer/director Ti West. Looking at his IMDB profile, it looks like he pulls double duty on low-grade horror films such as the CABIN FEVER sequel. I have heard of his V/H/S , which has made some waves in the horror community as of late. With THE INNKEEPERS, he has created an unbalanced and ultimately unsatisfying film, but one which absolutely has kernels of future success.

The Yankee Pedlar Inn is closing down at the end of the weekend. Only two employees are left, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), to service the small handful of guests who remain. In the downtime of night, Claire and Luke are determined to finally document proof of the existence of a ghost they believe to be haunting the hotel.

This plays out, at times, like an episode of Ghost Hunters. The two workers try to record bumps in the night on their microphone, as small and unimpressive things happen around them. I suppose the idea is to play this for ‘realism’ until shit starts to get crazy in the final act of the film.

What is promising about the movie is not the horror. It’s how well West does in creating a couple of lead characters whom we like and enjoy spending time with. It’s unfortunately rare for a horror movie to make an attempt at doing this anymore. And while West intentionally plays on our like of the characters in the final act, there is a sense of coordination over who does what. This isn’t random people wandering around and being randomly killed. I appreciate that.

The horror aspects of the film, on the other hand, are decidedly weaker. I wanted things to REALLY GO NUTS in the last act. They start to a little, but the payoff just ultimately wasn’t there for me. The film also gets derailed by a guest of the house, a washed up actress played by (ahem) Kelly McGillis, who is into psychic crystals. Her performance isn’t bad, to be honest. She has some nice scenes with Claire. But the character itself detracts from the enjoyment of what is happening rather than adding to it. Or, put another way, I’d rather this just have been a movie with Claire and Luke (and the one male guest who shows up later), and left out the other auxiliary folks. In particular, Claire’s trip to a coffee shop feels a lot like ‘Gee, we can’t really have this whole movie take place in a hotel, can we?’

Some of West’s shot composition was really nice. He knows how and when to use a canted frame. He is skilled in picking when to back a camera up as a character approaches. He manages to eek out a few decent scares. One shot at the top of the stairs with a ghost is in the highest horror class of scares. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the moments don’t land the way he’d want them to. The playing piano, for example, just doesn’t feel scary.

I was ultimately underwhelmed by this film. But Ti West is a guy I’d give a shot to, starting with his movie V/H/S. And I really appreciated the nuanced performance from Sara Paxton in this small film. A scene with her trying to throw a heavy garbage bag into a dumpster is unexpectedly funny in a really simple and human way. In fact, that moment is one of several small nice moments which this film was just not able to build upon for its big flashy moments. The film especially handcuffs itself by purporting to be a movie about amateur ghost hunters, but then gives them nothing but a microphone to entertain us with.

Maybe worth a watch for the performances from the leads. But I really think this could have been so much more.





~ by johnlink00 on July 19, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks THE INNKEEPERS (2011)”

  1. This site absolutely keeps on improving every time I see it.
    You should definitely be pleased.

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