Ti West is one of best horror directors working today, from the interesting and innovative “The Roost”, the criminally underrated and mishandled “Cabin Fever 2”, to the blast from the past film “House of the Devil”, he has shown that not only is his heart in the right place, so is his talent. Well, I have been not so patiently waiting for the Innkeepers and have been rewarded for my loyalty.
In Ti West’s new film, The Innkeepers, we meet Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), who are running the soon to be closed “Yankee Pedlar”. Luke has a paranormal website that he believes will take him into the big-time…eventually, and Sara is more than happy to help.
Ghost hunting will take uninterrupted hotel investigation, so they volunteer to look after the hotels final guests for the long weekend. The guests themselves have their own assorted ghosts and demons, which include a jilted wife (Alison Bartlett) and her son (as Jake Schlueter), a sad elderly gentleman (George Riddle) staying in his former honeymoon suite, and a former famous actress turned healer, or psychic if you will (Kelly McGillis).
The days are pretty uneventful, spent lazing around the hotel lobby and toying with the annoying jilted wife and her son. Claire dives deep into the hotel mythology and zeros in on Madeline O'Malley, a bride to be who was stood up and committed suicide in the hotel and whose body was hid in the basement. As Claire opens herself up, she begins to experience things and becomes caught up in a mission to free O'Malley’s soul. When they go down to the basement after a drunken binge, Luke’s website fame seems destined to become a reality, though maybe not in the way he thinks.
If you are a fan of Ti West, then you’re familiar with his “Slow burn” approach to film making. He spends time with the characters, letting you get to know them so that when the inevitable happens, it actually is horrific. The problem with most horror, and this is no revelation, is that the characters are only introduced so there is someone to kill. Claire and Luke are not just symptoms of the stories need, they are the story and we follow them into the darkness with dread.
Sara Paxton reeks of little girl lost, destined for a forgettable life in a forgettable town. I may not understand the Sara Paxton infatuation (She looks like Anton Yelchin in drag), but she is perfect for this role. I don’t remember ever seeing Pat Healy, though he was on 24, so I must have. He is fantastic as Luke, the aspiring paranormal website creator whose laptop history consist of his site and a slew of porn. He’s an honest and real character that I could have known in my life and that’s the kind of character that I like to watch.
Every character serves a purpose, and though their screen time is spare, they make an impact. The old man who comes to stay in his honeymoon suite of year’s pasts reeks of sadness and though we know what he’s there to do, it’s the how that is horrifying. Arising as the unofficial third of the group, Kelly McGillis’s Leanne Rease-Jones warns Claire of the dangers of the hotel but her psychic ability draws her into the fold repeatedly.
This is the kind of ghost story we need, creepy and effective without the use of a video camera reality. In fact, Luke makes a statement at the beginning of the film that his video camera is broken. That was a cool way of the director letting us know that there will be no found footage in this film. This is good old fashion ghost story that simply rocks. If you truly love horror, don’t pass this one by.