July 23, 2012

The Innkeepers (2011)

"During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay."

I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that I'm back to the horror movies now. Unfortunately, the first one I've decided to review this week is Ti West's "The Innkeepers" since it's still among the overpriced new releases in Wal-mart. You've probably been thinking about buying it or at least waiting for the price to drop so I'm here to save you some money.

I'll give Ti West some credit in that he keeps trying to make a good horror movie and creates some really good characters. The trouble is that he still isn't very good at delivering anything scary.

When I reviewed his overrated "The House of the Devil" (2009), I mentioned that I really didn't have much interest in watching "The Innkeepers". I changed my mind. Now that such things as dollar DVD rentals exist, there wasn't any good reason why I shouldn't watch it.

For three-quarters of "The Innkeepers", Sara Paxton and Pat Healy were very entertaining as a nerdy couple of hotel clerks. I liked their characters, was enjoying the unrequited love which was becoming more obvious as the story went on, and the occasional ghostie moment kept my interest.

The camerawork was very good, the production values were excellent, and the movie looked as if it had a much larger budget than I imagine that it really did. I assume that it was filmed inside a real hotel rather than on some studio sets. If it wasn't then I'm impressed. It felt real enough to me.

There were only a few things which I really disliked and most of those involved Kelly McGillis who turned up as an alcoholic psychic and made the ending very predictable for anyone who has ever seen "Penny Dreadful" (2005). I know a lot of people wouldn't have acknowledged the twist that was coming so I won't dwell on it, but it ruined the movie for me.

Actually, just seeing the once uber hot Kelly McGillis as she is now made me feel sad. I know we're all getting older, but I barely recognised her. I didn't recognise her at all in "Stake Land" (2010) when I watched it around this time last year either.

Fortunately, for those of us who prefer to see some tender young flesh in horror movies, Sara Paxton wasn't disappointing. She may not be the greatest actress in the world, and she looks a lot like Macaulay Culkin from certain angles, but she has fantastic legs. When her character, Claire, got scared by a ghostie and ran out of a hotel room in nothing but a t-shirt, I was pleased.

In fact, Sara Paxton really made this movie a lot more enjoyable than it should have been. Claire was so naive and oblivious to Luke revealing how he felt about her that I felt bad for both of them. Okay, so Pat Healy (who played Luke) may have been a little bit too old for her in the creepy way that only Americans and Brits feel about such things, but I thought their relationship was kind of sweet and it made the end of the movie even more tragic.

As for the scares, I'll admit that they worked, but there weren't enough of them. Most of the horror occurred during the denouement and was ruined by being far too rushed. This messed-up pacing is really becoming a trademark of Ti West and it's a shame. I don't know if he just doesn't notice when he's making a movie or whether the budget forces his hand, but, either way, it doesn't lead to a satisfying experience.

Although I don't recommend "The Innkeepers" as a full-price purchase, if you love ghost stories as much as I do, it's certainly worth renting. It's badly flawed, and if you watch it with someone who doesn't have much of a brain for such things, you'll probably end up being asked all sorts of stupid questions about the ending. You'll probably have quite a few questions about it yourself. Watch the epilogue very closely though and you'll get a nice surprise.

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