It was actually a complete accident that I stumbled across The Innkeepers, as I had completely missed any trailers for it when it was initially released. The plotline of this film is pretty much a standard ‘haunted house’ (although, it’s a hotel) story – but don’t hold that against it! I thought that the idea of swapping a house for a hotel was an interesting choice, very reminiscent of The Shining, and while it does not come anywhere near the standards of that classic film, it is not just another one of those cliched movies which quickly becomes tedious to watch. I think that this film is one of the many examples which prove that excessive special effects and huge budgets are not a necessity when it comes to making a decent movie, it can be just as effective with a little bit of innovation and creativity – which The Innkeepers definitely had.
Despite many claims that nothing happens during the course of this film, I really do object to this. Yes, it is not a film which travels along at a mile a minute, but I think that the slow build-up to events is an effective choice. I actually found the general quirkiness which filled up the majority of the movie very entertaining, especially with Sara Paxton’s character (Claire) who I found to be likeable and endearing to watch. A lot of the film is dedicated to the relationship between the two hotel workers – Claire and Luke – rather than anything ‘scary’ as such, but it is not without any scares whatsoever, and I personally found I was satisfied with the pace of the film. I never once found myself being bored by this film, and so I think this ultimately speaks for itself. The limited cast was a good thing for this film because it allowed the viewers to become more involved and interested in the characters that were around, meaning that we had a much closer attachment by the time we were midway through the movie and things were starting to kick off.
My complaint of this film would definitely have to be the ending. As there was such a gradual lead-up to the climax, when it finally came, things all happened too quickly and were over before they got a chance to really begin. I felt that the ending failed to answer any of the questions that were raised during the film – it just stopped abruptly and I was left blinking in confusion. The ‘ghost’ of Madeline O’Malley seemed to be shrouded in mystery for the entire film, when I had been under the impression that all would be revealed in the end. I was sadly mistaken, however, and any expectation as to the full background and motivations of this tormented ghost will forever remain unknown. Perhaps, the director (Ti West) should have not spent quite so long building on the dynamic between Clair and Luke – as it already became quite established early on in the film – and therefore allow more time on the climax of the film, because that is definitely where the film is lacking. I reckon that if this change had been made, The Innkeepers would have really been a successful and exciting experience, albeit in an understated way.
There were a fair number of clever shots and edits which I was impressed with throughout the film, and I felt that this aided the overall quirky quality. It’s all of these little details which make the film interesting and unique to watch, with the director placing their own stamp on the film – this is an admirable quality, especially considering he’s relatively new to the game. I think that the heavy emphasis that was placed on the lonely location, with many lingering shots expressing a sense of eeriness, was a brilliant choice by the director, too. Ultimately, the film’s focus was on the location, more so than the characters, and the interaction between location and characters plays a crucial role within the film – it was essentially the basis for the entire story. This was complimented by a suitable music score which also contributed to producing an unsettling atmosphere. There was nothing in the film which was overwhelmingly fantastic but I do not mean this in a hateful way, because it still has many things going for it.
This is more accurately described as a thriller as opposed to a horror film, but that it not to take anything away from the enjoyment of it. This is a good little film which I think would be a good way of easing into the genre, as it works at a fairly slow pace and is not too scary. I must admit, it did make me jump a couple of time, but hey, that’s all part of the fun. Overall, I think this is more than decent enough to recommend to my friends for a nice starter movie, not too heavy and morbid. It’s just a shame the ending let it down!