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
“The Innkeepers” was such a ho-hum experience for me that I’m going to have a difficult time reviewing it. My utter ambivalence towards this film is so great that it some how negates any form of opinion I might have. I’m a fan of slow burning horror films, but this movie’s plodding pace is also coupled with needless subplots and a lack of development. I’m not saying there isn’t a story, but there’s not enough to fill a feature film. For me, this movie is the cinematic equivalent of toast. It needs a little something extra to make it edible.
“The Innkeepers” is about the final days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn and it’s two remaining employees. Claire (Sarah Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are two twenty-something innkeepers determined to record paranormal activity by the ghost of Madeline O’Malley. O’Malley killed herself on her wedding night, and she now haunts the halls of this hotel. Claire and Luke have a sweet camaraderie as two bored desk clerks trying to get through the day. To cope with their boredom, they record room tone (hoping to hear a voice from beyond the grave), talk about their lack of ambition, and literally stare into the middle space.
One of the few patrons staying in this inn is the television actress, Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis). She claims to be staying there for a convention, but there’s a much goofier reason for her presence. There’s also an elderly gentleman that claims to be withholding a tradition, and a disheveled mother and her son.
Claire is going through a mild life crisis due to her lack of drive and ambition. She attempts to fill that void with paranormal investigation and for most of the film, doesn’t discover anything. When the film does get eerie, the suspense is better than the actual scare. The film can create a great atmosphere for horror, but it’s far too sparse.
The film’s main problem isn’t its horror aspect, but it’s the lack of progression. There are scenes of Claire and Luke aimlessly hanging out that don’t provide any form of input to the plot. This movie is 100 minutes and I feel like it could have been great around 40.
In ghost movies, the ghosts usually has some sort of motive for why they’re scaring and/or killing people. The ghost in “The Innkeepers” has little reason for causing such a ruckus. Luckily, Misses Leanne Rease-Jones is actually a medium and she can sense the presence of Madeline O’Malley. With the help of a new-age crystal Leanne learns that the basement is a dangerous place and Claire should go no where near it. That approach has literally never worked. God told Eve not to eat an apple, and now women have to endure the pain of child birth. So Claire now has a burning desire to go into the basement.
The quality of this movie is actually quite good. The performances are solid, the cinematography is sleek, and the score is fairly chilling. The story is where the wheels fall off. There is such a slow build up to a quick and lackluster ending. Why was the ending so abrupt when the rest of the movie lags. Claire is a captivating character and she is going through a very real problem (the lack of determination, not the ghost attacks). She’s ripe for an interesting arch, but her story just kind of peters along.
Ti West’s last film was a homage to 80’s horror movies called “The House of The Devil.” It was solid debut for a director and it made me eager to see his next project. “The Innkeepers” seems like a step backwards in his evolution as a filmmaker. There are a lot of quality elements in this movie, but they were some how put together in a way that made me not care. That in itself seems like an accomplishment.