After watching Take Shelter, I thought I was back on a roll after viewing some, let’s say, adequate (rated 7) entries of late in Stakeland and Red Lights, so I was hoping The Innkeepers would keep my good form going. I’m not so sure if my run has continued, because I do not want to be too unfair just yet on a largely okay movie.
The innkeepers, with its very independent, low-fi feel, tells the story of the last closing down days of The Yankee Pedlar Inn (an actual hotel!), where employees Clair (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) look to take advantage of only having a few guests, to investigate stories of the resident ghost ‘Madeline O’Malley’. With their Ghostbuster type tech and sharp wit, and with no small measure of youthful exuberance from Clair, they set about recording the nightly paranormal activity to reveal the hotel’s secret past.
In what is a much laboured, far too benign first half, too much play and time is given to ineffectively setting the scene for the inevitable frights to come. Clair and Luke playfully tease and practically joke one another, passing the time of 7 to 7 shifts, but it feels like wasted time in what is clearly a brilliant and very real setting, but it doesn’t house enough chills, coming too late and infrequent to really carry the menace of those other haunted houses/hotels that the ‘Pedlar’ is paying homage too.
Credit though to a largely unknown lead cast, convincing in carrying the scares and in delivering hilarity with the amusing dialogue of the playful, albeit wasteful first half; and also to a meagre budget that mostly punches it’s weight with a chilling lead ghoul and tight camera work, slowly zooming along and into the corridors and corners of the superb setting.
When the shocks do come they are effective enough, with a spot of ghostly ivory tinkling the highlight, alongside a chilling basement séance, where a shifting, chilling musical score and paranormal moans and groans compound the convincing terror etched on our protagonist’s faces; It’s a spooky first contact no doubt, but isn’t followed up with the same level of terror; as much else though, The Innkeepers frights are derivative, and when coupled with a dissatisfying and ambiguous end, The Yankee Pedlars’ real world haunted hotel menace isn’t used to its undoubted potential.
The Innkeepers is a decent horror effort but my good run has come to a swift end.