Director/Writer Ti West developed a strong cult following among horror film aficionados with the release of his 2009 film The House of The Devil. Many viewed it as a great throwback to the slow buildup/high tension horror films of the past. His 2011 film The Innkeepers, which he also wrote and directed, would appear to follow in the same tradition, this time focusing on one of the more tried and true horror tropes: The haunted house.
Or, in this case, the haunted Inn.
Claire (Sara Paxton) is a very young twentyish woman who works at the Yankee Pedlar Inn along with the slightly older Luke (Pat Haley). The Inn is on its very last days and will be closed forever following the coming weekend. Yet Claire and Luke work on despite the low number of tenants and high level of boredom. Why? Because Claire and Luke believe the Inn is haunted by the spirit of one Madeline O’Malley, a woman who in the Inn’s distant past (the Inn is perhaps a hundred or so years old) hung herself in the basement.
Claire and Luke are effectively just like the various “ghost hunters” you (over) see on TV nowadays, people with cameras and audio recording equipment hunting for any evidence of ghostly doings.
While there is one humorous, though completely superfluous, scene outside the Inn wherein Claire visits a coffee shop run by Lena Dunham (yes, that Lena Dunham) and we get a few minutes of Ms. Dunham doing her thing, the rest of the movie is exclusively set within the Inn itself.
Claire, we come to find, is starting to hear things. Her co-worker worries that she may be getting a little too involved in this whole “ghost hunting” situation. Meanwhile, two final guests show up at the Inn, Leane Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) a one-time famous actress now devoted to crystals and assorted spiritual pursuits, and an old man (George Riddle) who insists on being given a room on the third floor, despite the fact that the rooms up there have already been stripped in preparation for the Inn’s closing.
I don’t want to give away too much more but suffice it to say that for those who are patient enough for this “slow burn” type film, the scares are delivered in bulk by the film’s delirious climax.
However, the ending itself left me rather…cold. In fact, while I could forgive some of the extraneous elements in the film (the already mentioned Lena Dunham cameo, the mother and her son), the ultimate resolution of the film simply didn’t work for me. It came across as a little too downbeat.
Anyway, that’s just me. Regardless, The Innkeepers offers plenty of good buildup and a terrific climax that should have just about everyone suffering from white knuckle syndrome. My only reservation lies in the film’s final few minutes, but otherwise its a keeper.