Review: The Innkeepers
The Innkeepers
If you're a fan of horror, then no doubt you've heard the name Ti West come up a few times over the last couple years. He's the mastermind behind the very well regarded House of the Devil and I am one among many who would love to see his complete vision for Cabin Fever 2 (The studio took away the movie away from him during postproduction and West has since distanced himself from the movie as much as he could). After seeing his "devil" movie I was very excited to see what he could do with a ghost story. And I was not disappointed.

The story is about two employees of the Yankee Peddler. Luke, a web designer and amateur ghost hunter, and Claire, a dorky young girl who we follow throughout the movie. We hear what she hears and, for the most part, see what she sees. I found myself quickly liking her adventurous spirit and spunky attitude and wishing I could take her out to a nice steak dinner.

As one could expect from Ti West, the movie builds with great tension until it all bursts at the end. Unlike House of the Devil, the finale of The Innkeepers isn't quite as insane, but that may be the nature of telling a "charming" ghost story rather than a "devil" story. The first chapter of the movie (it's broken up into three chapters) is full of fun jump scares, though none too effective. They are predictable to anyone who is fond of scary movies but that doesn't make them any less fun to experience. Mostly because of the reactions of Claire, played by Sara Paxton. She freaks out in the way you would expect and I couldn't help but say, "D'awwwww", in my head each time she had to use her inhaler after getting scared. As soon as she starts trying to record EVPs, that's electronic voice phenomena for you lay folk, the tension begins building.

The tension is complemented beautifully by the sounds of the movie. We hear what Claire hears, which is especially effective while she is recording EVPs. West has a great ear for sound design and, perhaps more importantly, when to use silence. The other remarkable part of the sound is the score. It's rich with influence from Poltergeist and other classic ghost films. It was light and felt cheerful and charming when it needed to be and eerie and spooky when it was called for.

The characters were all likable and there was enough in the story and script that I wanted to deconstruct some of the elements of the film that were left a little more vague. I should add they were intentionally left open to interpretation, just like most good ghost stories don't answer every single question. The movie is set up and told like a fun camp fire story. I'm very excited to see more from Ti West, especially after The Innkeepers, and luckily we'll all get a little taste in the horror anthologies V/H/S and The ABCs of Death. However, if you need your fix now The Innkeepers is playing in 25 major cities and is available On Demand. For fans of the gleefully macabre, it is well worth checking out.

Grade: B+
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