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The Innkeepers (2011)

The Innkeepers

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 is a 2011 horror film written, directed, and edited by Ti West. The basic plot revolves around Claire (Sara Paxton – Shark Night 3D) and Luke (Pat Healy) who are two employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a once-grand hotel that is in its last weekend of operation. Business is extremely slow, so Claire and Luke, who both happen to be amateur ghost hunting enthusiasts, decide to spend their last weekend working at the hotel finding proof about the ghost of Madeline O’Malley. Madeline was a bride who hung herself in the 1800’s when her husband abandoned her on their honeymoon, and whose body was hidden in the basement by the hotel owners. With the help of a former actress-turned-psychic (Kelly McGillis – Stake Land) who is one of the hotel’s only guests, Claire and Luke’s weekend takes some unexpected and scary turns.

I saw a post on another site about this film, and they recommended it to people who liked Insidious. I loved Insidious, and thought The Innkeepers sounded good, so I gave it a watch. What I got was a hollow feeling afterwards. I didn’t hate it, but definitely didn’t love it. It seemed to be a slow burner, cautiously, eerily building up to something big but a payoff never happened. In fact, not a lot really happened. The scenes designed to make the audience jump seemed a little telegraphed, one or two were pretty good but the rest seemed wasted. Even at the beginning, sadly I had seen the ‘ghost’ that appears in the laptop scene on a viral video that was passed around online a few years back. I guess if you’re not expecting it, that might make you jump.

sarah paxton

The Innkeepers is divided into three chapters and an epilogue. Throughout them all you will see that Claire suffers from asthma. This is very noticeable as it appears as though every time she takes out the inhaler, she may as well look at the camera, nod, wink and then use it. It became so obvious that this was integral to the film, but rather than let the audience pick it up for themselves it was labelled and pointed out so no one could ever miss the fact she has asthma.

It just never seemed to go anywhere, and there seemed a lot of parts in the film had no real need to be there. We get to see a woman and her son also staying at the hotel, as she is hiding from her husband. That was it really, I kept waiting to see if there would be any link to this, but no. A couple of the ‘ghost hunting’ scenes looked ok, a bit with the piano being the creepiest but still nothing to make me want to recommend the film.

Acting wise, I liked the two female leads but the guy annoyed me. Just shave your hair dude, that weird quiff was just off-putting! He wasnt very likeable and maybe a bigger name could have brought a bit more flair and excitement to the role. The film looked fine, visually nothing exceptional though. The camera scenes following the actors through corridors was very reminiscent of ‘The Shining’, but obviously no where near as well done as in Kubrick’s masterpiece. Ti West has admitted the story was a struggle to write. This shows, as it seemed he had so many ideas, tried to implement them and whilst they weren’t terrible they just never seemed to go anywhere and added to the confusion. The ending was a small saving grace, at least they went with something a little different.

the innkeepers

In conclusion, I read some reviews on IMDB after I finished the majority of mine to see if it was just me that wasn’t blown away by this film. It seems to be a very love or hate movie, some people scoring it 1’s & 2’s, others 8’s & 9’s, hence its average score. Anyone that doesn’t score this high seems to be criticised on the forums for not grasping the subtle nuances of psychological horror. Believe me, I do normally, but The Innkeepers didn’t really show any true horror moments. A couple of decent ‘scare-scenes’ don’t make a top quality film, despite Eli Roth’s glowing endorsement on the DVD front cover above (who am I to disagree with him I hear you say)! If you like your ghost stories and can put up with a slow pace with little tension then you may enjoy The Innkeepers.

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35 Comments

  1. I have not seen The Innkeepers but have seen House of the Devil and it turned me off to Ti West. Honestly, this review could have been a review for House of the Devil as your sentiments mirror mine for the aforementioned film. I think West is over-rated. Nice write-up though and unless The film is streaming and free, I’ll pass 🙂

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  2. I loved House of The Devil, because it was a throw back to 1970’s style horror films. I was dissappointed with The Innkeepers because that same slo-burn plot and scrutinized character developement did not work for this film. It was sad at the end – not scary, and the ‘ghost’ didn’t chill or thrill me either. Much like M. Knight Shyamalan films, this style works perfectly for some movies but not good at all for others, IMO.

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    • Some great points you make. Although now I’m more swayed to seeing his earlier film! Yeah I didn’t find this scary at all, and the pace was my main issue, especially as there was no pay off to make the waiting worthwhile. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

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  3. I wasn’t a fan of House of the Devil which makes me think I’ll probably not enjoy this one. Still I’ll give it a shot because I really love the ghost stories. They always make me miss going ghost hunting though. *sighs* 🙂

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    • I apologise in advance Misty. If my friend reads this he will travel to wherever you live and drag you out ghost hunting! He is always breaking into old buildings trying to find things. He assures me he has heard many creepy things!

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      • *giggles* No worries, I will happily go ghost hunting with him! I’m always trying to get people to break into old buildings with me and they rarely ever do, so I think he and I would get along just fine! 😉

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        • You can both be arrested together! As much as I can stomach any horror film and rarely jump or get scared from a movie, the thought of actively trying to meet/see ghosts of any kind terrifies me a little.

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        • Yay for mutual arrest! 😉 I grew up in a house that had a poltergeist (I named it Harold) and have had more than one ghostly encounter so I’m less frightened of it. Although there is something sooo creepy and sooo fun about abandoned buildings. 🙂

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        • Part of me is fascinated by the thought of it (Harold?Nice friendly name!) and part of me is very sceptical about it all. But I’ve met people that swear blind they have seen ghosts/spirits/something and that’s cool, who am I to say they are lying. I guess I always believe in science and what i can see, but then if i saw something I couldn’t explain chances are I would have a heart attack! Aren’t poltergeists meant to be the evil ones? Im happy to accept something friendly is looking over me but dont want something evil watching me!

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        • Well, we had a lot of odd occurrences. Doors would open when you walked up to them or alternately they would slam shut and lock when you walked up to them. CD’s in my cd player would get switched around (most often “Phantom of the Opera” would find it’s way in there, lol). Footsteps would be on the stairs but no one was there. And after I went to college, Harold took up playing my brother’s drums in the basement at night. Lol, I say poltergeist because they tend to be the ones who move items and objects.

          I also had a friend who had a little girl ghost follow her around (like when she moved houses). And I saw my mother’s mom when I was 12 (she died when my mom was 8).

          I totally can understand why you don’t really believe in that sort of thing and it can be absolutely freaky to think about but for me personally, I know there’s more than just us. And no one really knows what happens when someone dies. I figure it’s kinda like the waiting room in “Beetlejuice” out there. 😉

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        • I think its more choice than belief for me. I would rather live in the ignorant bliss that nothing is around my house aside from when my creepy cat decides to stare at nothing on my ceiling………I would honestly rather be taken hostage by Leatherface & his family than have the stuff you described happen to me 🙂

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        • *giggles* at your creepy cat. And yikes, no Leatherface for me, k thanks. 😉

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        • I’d fancy my chances fighting against some maniacs I can see, but against unknown creepy forces I’d be useless. Probably trip over the cat trying to run away. 🙂

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        • Ha, I have a hilarious image of this in my head now! I want to make a short film of this scenario. It would be excellent! 🙂

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        • As long as you include me taking down a whole family of psychos first before I embarrass myself running away screaming then go right ahead! I look forward to the money rolling in 🙂

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        • Oh, of course, of course. 😉

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  4. I’m really glad to see someone have the same thoughts on the movie as I did, someone on Facebook had consistently raved on about this movie asking everyone to see at and how she couldn’t believe how great it was; so I went in thinking I was going to be blown away but came out so disappointed. It didn’t help however, that I had just seen the Woman in Black which was a way better ghost story then this one, if you haven’t seen it. Great Write up!

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    • Thanks! I guess that’s the beauty of film, sometimes people just fall in love and can see no wrong. It’s good we all like different things, its the people that tell me I’m wrong I cant stand. No opinion is wrong but anyway I digress! I haven’t seen Woman in Black. I must get round to it, going through a ghost film phase at the minute so will try catch it. Thanks as always for stopping by 🙂

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  5. “…for not grasping the subtle nuances of psychological horror.” I hate people like that.

    Great review! I think in general any movie about a haunting is very hit or miss, and not many movies can pull it off effectively. It’s also best in movies like that to keep the story relatively simple. You can’t be frightened of the ghost if you’re all over the place with useless and unimportant characters.

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    • Thanks buddy. Yeah always idiots tarnishing people with the same brush if you don’t agree with their assessment. I agree with you though about keeping it simple. The most effective films and scares come from that premise – I know Blair Witch can polarise opinions but I thought that was scary at the time. The Innkeepers just kept introducing weird characters at random points, very distracting!

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      • Well, look at Paranormal Activity. REALLY simple, but it was a bloody scary movie. And Blair Witch was awesome for its time, it’s just sad how many other movies hopped on the found footage bandwagon afterwards.

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        • Agreed, found footage has been done to death. I thought Paranormal Activity 3 was excellent and maybe the best of the trilogy.

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  6. Victor De Leon

     /  August 16, 2012

    I had a blast watching and reviewing this movie. I love slow burn horror films like this one, The House of the Devil and The Pact or even Absentia of late. Ti West must be really tired of hearing that phrase “slow burn” but it applies to this neat little horror movie. good review.

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    • Victor De Leon

       /  August 16, 2012

      oh and I can definitely see your viewpoints on the film. even though I enjoyed it much more than you did.

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    • Thanks! As I’m sure you saw I wasn’t a huge fan of this, and people have contrived to put me off House of the Devil! I will get round to it at some point, if only because the cast list looks good!

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  7. Great review 🙂
    I loved this film, but can see why it could easily be a let down…I watched it having not heard anything about it, and certainly hadn’t heard it likened to Insidious, so I guess I didn’t have any expectations going in. I thought the rom-com feel at the beginning was cleverly done…it felt all the way through like a romantic comedy until like, the last 20 minutes or so which is when the horror actually started. To me it wasn’t much of a psycho horror at all…I didn’t feel the tension building, it was a rom com in my mind until towards the end. I think that’s why I liked it so much, and thought the characters were really likeable too.
    But I can definitely see where you’re coming from!

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    • I just couldn’t get into it. Just felt like something id seen 100 times before and not something I can see myself watching again. Glad you liked it a little more though 🙂

      Thanks Natasha.

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