Movie Review: ‘The Innkeepers’
Dir: Ti West
Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
I just want to get this out of the way now – I love Ti West! He really is a fantastic recent addition to the horror genre, he keeps things interesting and inventive. The Innkeepers which is his latest is no different, this is a really great film, not just a great horror film. His previous film The House Of Devil is one I finally caught last year and I was incredibly impressed with what he did and it was worth all the praise it had received. The Innkeepers is very different than that, however it still has that distinct Ti West feel, suspense and atmosphere. This film moves at a steady pace and it certainly held my interest the entire way through. It has minimal characters, it mainly takes place in the one location, and this worked like a charm.
The film takes place during the closing days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employee’s are left to take care of the place with Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy). The Inn has only a few guests left, including actress Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) and a mother and son. Luke tells Claire that the Inn is haunted and he shows her this website he made. Claire begins to start hearing and feeling things and she begins to investigate the supposed haunting. As she delves deeper into this mystery, things get stranger and a lot more creepy. Is it real, all in her head or is someone playing a sick joke? You’ll of course have to watch to find out!
From the start this film had me hooked in, I loved the setting and I immediately liked the characters of Claire and Luke. I admit it has been awhile since I have seen Kelly McGillis in anything, and she got my attention as soon as she showed up, that woman has certainly not lost her screen presence. The first act establishes our location, the Inn acts as a character itself, it establishes our main characters and the apparent haunting that this Inn has. As someone who has experienced some strange occurrences, I could definitely relate to what Claire was going through and West handled it perfectly. Luke tells her that the place is haunted and as she finds out more about the history of the Inn, it plays on her mind. We the audience are left to guess as to whether this has gotten to Claire and she is seeing things or whether it is in fact real or a sick joke. West plays it clever in this way, and he really uses this to keep us guessing and wonder about our own experiences with unexplained things.
The characters really helped make this film, they are natural and normal people that are easy to relate to. Claire is the cute one, she’s fun and bubbly. Luke is almost the shy, boy next door type who clearly has a crush on Claire. Leanne is the older actress who is a cold bitch but keeps an air of mystery about her. Three actors are all fantastic, Sara Paxton was great and she hit all the right notes. I have always thought that she was a great actress and this is one of her stronger performances. Pat Healy played it perfectly, he’s the kind of guy we all know and from page to film he really embodied that. The chemistry was on fire between Paxton and Healy, they were a great fit and West and crew really chose well with them. Kelly McGillis was a big surprise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from her but she impressed me a lot. She revealed a lot with her character each time we saw her, but kept that veil around her as well. While she isn’t in it as much as the other two, she certainly leaves a strong impression.
Ti West proves once again that he knows what he is doing and he can do different sub-genres within the horror genre. This as I mentioned is very different than The House Of The Devil, this has a lighter side, yet it is genuinely scary. He builds up tension so well, this is a white knuckle type of film, and this all still holds up on a second viewing. His script is very sharp, his dialogue is great, and it flows just perfectly. The Innkeepers will likely go down as one of my favourite genre films of 2012, and I’m eager to see what Ti West comes up with next.