Directed by Ti West; Dark Sky Films; Magnet Releasing
Filmmaker Ti West takes on a journey into the realm of psychological horror with his latest project, The Innkeepers, a follow up to 2009’s The House of the Devil. After that breakout hit and the subsequent bad vibes in the wake from Cabin Fever II, a film he claims no allegiance due to reported heavy studio interference, West needed a winner to get the bad tastes out of everybody’s mouths and put that dreck in the past.
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are two front desk clerks at the historic Yankee Pedlar Inn working the last weekend before the establishment faces demolition. Both enthusiasts of the supernatural, Luke operates a "paranormal sighting" website using the Yankee Pedlar for the majority of his site’s content while quirky Claire is still a bit green to the lifestyle. Like many old hotels, this one has a seedy story in its past concerning a woman who committed suicide there when her fiancée stood her up at the altar. Luke’s claim to have previously made contact with this spirit intrigues Claire to the point that she also tries to reach out to her once she starts hearing and seeing strange things over the course of the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, two guests check-in during the hotel’s final sendoff, including a washed up actress who now has a different calling in life (Kelly McGillis) and a creepy old-timer (George Riddle) who requests to stay in a specific room for reasons unknown. As more bizarre occurrences keep happening towards the Inn’s final farewell, is everything all in Claire’s young mind or are there spirits lurking with bad intentions?
The Innkeepers is a return to form for West who provides us with the usual slow burn towards his conclusion, apparent in his previous works such as The Roost and the previously mentioned Devil. The film utilizes a great deal of comedic elements, even going as far as masquerading as a horror-comedy until the final act. At the same time, this is not a deep venture into psycho-horror, like a Shining clone or anything like that.
The scares are kept to a minimum with the emphasis on an uneasy atmosphere instead. West aims for a telling an overall interesting story with good characters rather than trying for an all-out scare fest. In this way, he definitely demonstrates some versatile in his directing skills, especially in terms of guiding his talent. The most notable example is with female lead Paxton, who usually uses her piercing blue eyes and good looks to sell her roles. As Claire, Paxton is extremely convincing as a nerdy, awkward chick who appears uncomfortable in her own skin. She uses her pure acting skills instead of relying on her good looks, which makes you appreciate her talents as an actress on a completely different.
West delivers the expected beautiful cinematography that goes along with his films with excessive usage of long standing shots and excellent lighting choices for interior scenes in the hotel. Expect a film that prods along to the end, where the payoff is ambiguous but enough clues are provided for a satisfying conclusion…if you were paying attention the whole time.
It would definitely be worth your time to register for one last stay at The Yankee Pedlar to meet these particular Innkeepers. Just make sure to keep bugging them for towels early and often. Now available now on VOD with scheduled for theatrical release on February 3.
|3.5 out of 5 Creeper Santas|