Director: Ti West Written by: Ti West
Staring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
“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 Ain’t Fraid of No Ghosts: Thoughts on Ghosts and a Haunted Inn
I have been a long time fan of the ghost story. Be it a high budget tale of terror or a simple story sitting around the campfire, I’ll buy a ticket for that ride. Fear is a very personal thing. When you come to a supposed scary film you are an important element in achieving the desired effect.
My earliest memories of being scared and lying awake in bed go back to the days of Unsolved Mysteries. A late 80’s program about real crimes that had gone unsolved. Every so often Robert Stack, the host, would announce that it was to be a night of chilling tales, haunted mansions and ancient Civil War burial grounds. These were a favorite in my household. I would bravely watch from the comfort of a well-lit living room. Later I would find myself awake for hours, staring at the ceiling, trying my best to quiet my active imagination. I would never deny the possibility of a ghost. In fact I sometimes would talk to the potential ghosts. Assuring them I had no problem with their presence, but if they could maybe not make themselves known to me, it would truly be appreciated.
As I grew older the ghost story in film became a favorite genre. While a good zombie flick or slasher tale makes for an evening of entertainment, I find the haunted experience to be quite different. I can put myself in the situation, make it my own story, stir up that active child-like imagination, and work myself into a state of fear.
Saturday night I settled in, turned down the lights, and took a chance that The Innkeepers could help me achieve a night of self-induced frights. I can report back, mission accomplished! By the end of the film I felt tense, alone, and very on edge. I began to question each of the typical sounds of the night.
The actual story in The Innkeepers does not feel character driven. It never really takes the time to develop who these people are outside of the events of the film. We do get that the main characters Luke and Claire are working together, the hotel will be shutting down, and they are the only employees for one last weekend. Luke has a website, Claire is helping with some ghost hunting, and maybe Luke has a little thing for Claire. Outside of the basics it never really builds from there. The actors portraying the
characters (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) do a fine job creating a believable chemistry. I just never felt a strong connection to these characters. Something that was done extremely well by John Cusack in the film 1408. You had not just ghosts, but an incredible portrayal of a broken man, grieving for a lost son. This would be my biggest gripe with The Innkeepers. You can like them, even feel a little bad for them, but you are not going to remember them.
So why watch this movie? While I felt they failed with characters, I think they excelled with certain elements that make a scary movie work. If we are going to be scared, we need the people in the movie to be scared Paxton and Healy do an incredible job building from indifference, to unease, to flat-out fearing for their lives as the movie progresses. When Claire is put into situations time and again, I believe the emotion being shown on-screen enough to put myself into the scene. This helps intensify what is going on. I begin to truly feel afraid for her.
Time and again movies have proved that you don’t need to go big to create a terrifying situation. 1979’s The Amityville Horror or 1980’s The Shinning immediately come to mind. I would not put The Innkeepers on the same level, but they do many similar things that worked for those two films. Much of The Shinning is the hotel itself. On a smaller scale The Yankee Pedlar Inn is a great location for this movie. It is a place that you could scare yourself in just by being there late at night without the ghosts. On top of that you give the place a little history. These places had really tragic events go down in the past. You can feel a bit of that evil hanging around. Then that evil starts to manifest itself. The Innkeepers has a few effects and visual ghouls, but relies a lot on atmosphere. With music, ambient sound, and lighting the filmmakers increase the overall mood. You begin to feel scared because of these things and not just because something jumped out from behind a tree. Never get too comfortable though. What would a horror movie be without the jump scene. There are more than a few moments that will have you tossing the popcorn.
The Innkeepers will not be making any “Top 100” lists, but it is a solid and watchable film. The characters are fairly standard, but the actors still make them likeable. It has enough creepy scenes to keep you engaged and always a bit on edge. If you are a fan of the ghost story and like more of a psychological scare I feel it is worth your time. I would highly recommend the three other films mentioned in this review. 1408, The Amityville Horror and The Shinning. The Innkeepers is a fun addition to the genre, but these films are quintessential ghost stories
Article By: Clancy (@PDXGeek777) http://pdxgeek777.com/