What Time is Checkout? (Film Review: “The Innkeepers”)

With Halloween around the corner, my taste runs to the classic ghost story genre.  The Innkeepers is a clever little movie that sneaks up on you just when you’ve convinced yourself that writer and director Ti West is taking you for a fool and there’s really nothing to be afraid of, after all. Not so fast……

SnapShot Plot

The venerable Yankee Pedlar Inn is preparing to finally close its doors after a century in business.  Like many historic New England hotels, it’s seen its share of human drama and misery, crowned by the tragic tale of a woman named Madeline O’Malley whose unrequited love story became the stuff of ghoulish ghost legend. On this final weekend in operation, the last remaining staff, amateur ghost hunters Claire and Luke, resolve to determine once and for all the validity of the ghost of Madeline that has persisted to shroud the hotel in a creepy cloak of mystery.  Fresh faced newcomer Sara Paxton (a dead ringer for a young Reese Witherspoon) plays Claire, a somewhat dorky and naive young woman who approaches the ghost-hunting task at hand with earnestness and sincerity.  She’s also an asthmatic whose increasing dependence on her inhaler is worrisome to those observant members of the audience.  Luke is a cynical curmudgeonly guy with an abrasive voice and a bad TinTin-like hairstyle who is obviously conflicted on the question of whether or not he Believes.  And in an inspired bit of casting, we have Kelly McGillis in a small but focal role as a TV celebrity staying at the hotel who just may be a conduit to the spirit world beyond the veil.

 

Parting Shot

A bit of back story here is that The Yankee Pedlar is a real hotel in Torrington, CT, which for years has been the subject of paranormal rumors and such.  In fact, the film crew actually stayed at the hotel during the 17-day shoot, and although director Ti West is not a believer, he did acknowledge that strange doings were afoot such as doors slamming and lights turning on and off for no reason. Now you can’t watch The Innkeepers without making mental comparisons throughout to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, especially as both hotels were much more than locations for the horror but indeed actual characters within the stories.  And, like Kubrick, Ti West has mastered the art of slowly panning across a completely quiet and empty room in such an unnerving way as to make me want to jump out of my seat at the slightest provocation…which I did more than once during this film.  What starts out at a seeming snail’s pace momentum, once you settle into it with a comfy blanket, turns into a horrifying roller-coaster ride into Hell.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Featured Image Courtesy of: http://www.mondo-digital.com/innkeepers.html

YouTube Trailer Courtesy of:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=endLt6cX0fk

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