Innkeepers, The (2011)

The InnkeepersStarring George Riddle, Kelly McGillis, Pat Healy, Sara Paxton

Directed by Ti West

Ti West’s new one, The Innkeepers, is essentially the Scary Maze Game of the 2011 SXSW Film Festival. It’s a feature-length prank of sorts that draws you in, holds your attention, and then ultimately scares the shit out of you at the last second. That might sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. West succeeds in creating a true horror comedy – one that makes you laugh out loud and jump out of your seat – and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish considering you can probably count on one hand the films that actually succeed at both.

The question is – How can you play with the cliches and conventions of the ghost story without actually becoming the very thing you’re dancing around and trying to avoid? You have to have truly dynamic characters to make it work, and the likable duo of Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) as the last two desk clerks at the all-but-forgotten Yankee Pedlar Inn are the perfect guides for the roller coaster ride of a film Ti West and Glass Eye Pix have orchestrated.

You don’t mind that the two keep leaving each other alone at the worst possible times because it’s played for laughs; when Claire goes down to the creepy basement AGAIN, you forgive her stupidity because she’s just so damn adorable. Kelly McGillis, as a new age actress well past her prime, adds to the proceedings as well, and her character’s involvement in the final act of the film really kicks off the harrowing last twenty minutes where the scares become genuine.

The quirky comedy and eccentricities of Claire and Luke, along with the brightly lit kitsch of the Inn, are just a setup to lull the viewer into a comfortable groove. Once you’ve settled in, the tackiness of the Inn falls away to reveal the haunted history within its walls, and the bold exploration of our two heroes eventually turns into sheer terror.

The only complaints some will have are that there’s just too much setup and the ending doesn’t reveal much of a back-story regarding Madeline O’Malley – the Inn’s haunted mistress and longest resident. Still, if you stuck with The House of the Devil and admire that film’s visual flair, The Innkeepers is definitely worth checking into.

4 out of 5

Discuss The Innkeepers in the comments section below!

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  • ScaryJerry

    The Innkeepers is another Ti West slooooowww burn that is surprisingly funny and just a touch scary. Be warned that there is zero payoff (much of the ghostly backstory is never revealed), the plot is missing-in-action, and the fate of one of the characters is murky at best – yet all this feels clearly intentional. After the film ends, you begin to realize how much was left unexplained (who cares!?) but this is not sloppy filmmaking – it’s a firm middle finger pointed at genre fans. West seems to poking fun at haunted house films and laughing AT us (the gullible audience willing to pay for scare) instead of laughing WITH us. It’s infuriating and reeks of another indulgent writer/director/editor (ahem… M.Night) who is a little too proud of himself and his pseudo-intellectual commentary. West desperately needs to be reigned in by a good producer or directing partner. Nonetheless, the performances are worth a view, the film looks great, and the few scares are decent. Not worth the VOD or theater ticket price, but do add it to your Netflix queue. 3 ½ stars.

  • kiddcapone

    You had me until admire House of the Devil. No fucking thanks.

    • Vanvance1

      They completely have me. House of the Devil was a little slow but it was also an example of a director who knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it on screen. That’s a talent worth watching.

      • jesstro

        I dont know about that. While the look of the House… was great, and the atmosphere was just right, the final string the director pulled was a weak one. Felt like he ran out of ideas and hit us with a cop out… but I digress, I did enjoy most of that movie, so Im sure that I will enjoy The Innkeepers, well as long as they dont go crazy demon shit from left field.

      • Cinemascribe

        I’ve enjoyed West’s work. I liked The Roost (the segments involving the horror television host were particularly fun) and I was legitimately surprised at how much I didn’t hate Cabin Fever 2. It wasn’t great,but considering that I loathed the original Cabin Fever, the fact that I made it all the way through part II without having the desire to turn it off at any point speaks volumes. House of the Devil was phenomenal..just a solid, well crafted piece of suspense/horror cinema. There are precious few movies in the past decade which strike me as being truly, genuinely creepy and House of the Devil is near the top of that short list. I mean damn, man, this is a movie that managed to make the sight of someone getting shot frightening again. I’d love to see what West can do with a horror comedy. I will definitely check the Innkeepers out when I get the chance.


        Do you wanna party? It’s PARTYTIME.

      • GJW

        Hahahaha. Damn this “House of the Devil”. I keep putting it ON my Netflix queue, then I read something about it (not anothers opinion, something about the movie itself) and I take it ff. Then I read something I side favorably with, and put it back on. Days later, off again. I just gotta watch this damn movie and be done with it. Hell, there are WORSE things I can do with an hour and a half I guess.

        I’m not gonna kill you. Your job will be to tell the rest of them that death is coming for them, tonight. Tell them Eric Draven sends his regards.