In "The Innkeepers," West keeps the pace much the same as in "House of The Devil," meaning that if you're not a fan of very, very, VERY slow and uneventful lead-ins, this is probably not the best film to recommend to you. I must admit to being slightly put off by the glacial pace of it, although to both the film's and Ti West's credit, it was never boring since West is very good at creating tension out of very little. Whether it's done with strange noises or subtle tricks with the camera or playing with the expectations we have come to have after seeing so many horror films, "The Innkeepers" keeps a pace which is surprisingly compelling despite the fact that nothing much is actually happening.
*Beer can opens*
The story revolves around Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), two twenty-somethings who work in an old hotel which is on its last days open as it goes out of business. Being an old hotel in a horror movie, naturally terrible things involving death have occurred there, and the place is haunted. And since they are amateur ghost hunters, in-between sitting at the front desk being bored, Claire and Luke take it upon themselves to try and record events going on in the hotel before the place is turned into a parking lot.
So that's what they do for most of the film. One of them sits at the front desk and is bored until they hear something creepy and pick up a mic and go off looking for it. Every once in a while we get a scene where they're talking to a really bitchy lady and her kid who are staying in the hotel or with Leanne (Kelly McGillis), a psychic who is also staying there, but for the most part "The Innkeepers" is made up of slowly creeping around looking for whatever is making noises.
That's not to say I thought it was boring, although I can easily see someone being bored stiff by it. I thought it was actually very engaging and on occasion brutally suspenseful. The issue I have with it comes when you consider the fact that in the end, the ghosts really don't do anything. By the climax it's gone into full blown horror movie land, but when you get to the end and you tally up the body count, nothing that the ghosts did actually killed anyone.
"Oh man. Is your side of the bed as lumpy as mine? This is insane, I'm gonna talk to someone."
I won't get into spoilers, but the big death of the movie is caused by a locked door and a medical condition. True, there was a ghost present at the time of death, but from what I could tell, the only thing it did was slowly walk forward. It's similar to my issue with "The Woman In Black," although at least in that movie the ghost did directly cause deaths. It's always been an annoyance with me when all a ghost does is stand there or suddenly appear and scream at you like it has nothing better to do with its time. Like, if it were a person instead of a ghost and that's all they did, there's no way you'd be scared of them. They'd just be a jackass. And "The Innkeepers" does a have a nasty habit of trying to scare us with the ghosts doing such insidious things as PLAYING A PIANO! The horror!
The best aspect of the film is the acting, because it's across-the-board fantastic. I really, really, really liked Sara Paxton as Claire in this movie. She is absolutely adorable in her quirky weirdness, coming across like one of those people who is kind of naturally uncomfortable in their own skin, and as someone who has known many people like that, and in fact has been one of those people myself, I could easily relate to her. And I really didn't want to see bad things happen to her, which only made the movie more intense when bad things inevitably did happen.
And THAT, film makers, is why it's more effective to NOT liter your horror films with douchebags.
Pat Healy as Luke was a lot of fun as well, being one of those guys who likes to talk big and be snarky and cool, but it's clear that he's just as awkward as Claire. It's a really nice subtle acting job. And even Kelly McGillis was quite good, redeeming herself somewhat for her performance in "Top Gun" all those years ago. Although I must admit that she does look a lot like Dame Judi Dench now. It's weird.
I'm not going to lie and say that I really enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed aspects of it, for sure, but at the end of the day when the credits rolled I was left rather lukewarm. The climax, as intense as it admittedly got, just wasn't enough to make the slow burn of the rest of the film worth it. Ti West did it far better in "House of The Devil," which ended with an Earth-shattering kaboom whereas "The Innkeepers" just goes out with a decently large firework.
Check out the trailer unless you want some of the bigger jumps to be a surprise.
THE BOTTOM LINE - "The Innkeepers" is a very well-shot film with fantastic performances across the board. It's spooky, it's very intense at parts, and puts you on edge for nearly the entire film. However, it is somewhat of a let-down in the end due to a vague and unsatisfying ending which does not live up to the tension the rest of the film provided. It's well made but disappointing. I'd recommend "House of The Devil" over this one.