Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Innkeepers - QC Review

Only Claire and Luke are left to operate the Inn for its final weekend.

Directed by: Ti West
Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy and Kelly McGillis
Rated: R  
Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes
Release Date: December 30, 2011

The horror genre is a highly subjective one, meaning what works for one person, regardless of its quality, won't necessarily work for another person based solely on a few key factors. In the simplest terms, a scary film is broken down into one of two categories, the kind that shows everything and the kind that shows nothing. For some, seeing what lurks around the corner waiting for an unsuspecting teenager is a necessity, but for others imagining what lurks around that corner is more frightening than anything shown to them. Whether or not you fall into either of those two categories, you are going to need an extreme amount of patience if you are to enjoy director Ti West's new horror flick, "The Innkeepers", which tries to blend both styles but ends up doing neither justice.

The film centers on an Inn facing its last weekend in operation. Only the second floor has accommodations with the third floor already stripped and only two employees left in the building for the long weekend, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy). With a very limited clientele consisting of an elderly man, a woman and her child and a down and out film actress (Kelly McGillis), Claire and Luke decide to determine if the spirit of Madeline O'Malley, a woman from the 1800s who hung herself on her honeymoon after being abandoned by her husband and then had her body hid in the basement of the Inn by the owners, still haunts the halls of the Yankee Pedlar Inn. With their ghost hunting equipment in hand (consisting of only a tape recorder), the two of them proceed to attempt and call forth the spirit of Madeline and discover the truth behind her demise

Claire tries to listen in on some ghostly conversations.

"The Innkeepers" will test your patience in more ways than one. The majority of its time is spent with Claire and Luke gossiping about hauntings and mysteries intermixed with the occasional unexplained creek in the floor or gust of wind through the empty halls. To many this may sound like a good thing, one thing lacking in many of today's haunted house stories is sufficient build up. Too often films are in a rush to get to the goods and don't appreciate the benefits of building tension to an inevitable breaking point. "The Innkeepers" nobly attempts to bring that style back and succeeds mostly up until it fails to deliver an adequate conclusion. Which is unfortunate because all the pieces are there, an appropriately spooky locale, two curious young adults with little regard to their own safety and atmosphere to spare. If only it could have brought it all together in a satisfying way.

When those end credits begin to roll you will most likely feel either cheated or simply letdown by what all unfolds during those final minutes. It tries to convey multiple possible outcomes but with the fate of one character completely unresolved and the cause of their fate left ambiguous, you will be hard pressed to feel those 90 minutes leading up to it were worth it. It's alright that it doesn't spell things out for you, but it at least needs to give better hints in one direction or the other. Worse of all though is how little payoff there is. You get maybe a handful of frightful moments with some ghostly figures but it all feels too little too late by the time it concludes. By the end neither the crowd looking for visual treats nor those looking to have their imaginations peaked will come away feeling very satisfied, it just doesn't do enough of one or the other to make anyone happy and by trying to do it both ways it comes off as half-a**ed as a result.

Although the ending leaves much to be desired, there is still some benefit to "The Innkeepers". The slow (very slow) build up is well paced and will likely have you wanting to cover your eyes on more than one occasion. The acting likewise is pretty solid all around so there should be no complaints in that department. As mentioned before, the pieces were there, it was the lack of follow through that hurts the film in the end. It is all build up and no payoff. There is a lot to appreciate about "The Innkeepers"with its slower and methodical pace but there is even more to be disappointed by with its lackluster ending that fails to provide any semblance of a satisfying conclusion. This is a recommendation strictly for fans of the genre and even then only as a rental at best. If you can find it on a streaming service, even better.

Spooky figures wander the dark halls of the Inn.




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