Movie Reviews 263 – The Innkeepers (2011)

The InnkeepersHorror movies by their very nature tend to be shot in dark brooding scenes that evoke a sense of peril and anticipation. On the other side of the coin are the horror comedies that dispel the need for that ambiance as the goal is chuckles more than screams. With The Innkeepers, writer and director Ti West tries to narrow that divide, presenting a movie that has mostly brightly lit scenes with a frenetically fun principal character and minimizing the dingy, shadowy scenes until the latter half when things do start to get creepy. But the fresh take ultimately fails in the most basic of horror storytelling needs, and leaves viewers hanging around looking for some sort of unfulfilled finality, much like the ghosts in these movies.

With imminent closure just around the corner the two remaining hotel staff at the Yankee Pedlar Inn are more interested in capturing evidence of the Inn’s resident ghost than tending to the few remaining guests. Energy filled Claire (Sara Paxton) puts all her energy in trying to elicit the ethereal presence of the late Madeline O’Malley, who when spurned on her honeymoon sometime in the last century, hung herself at the Inn, but whose keepers at the time decided not to report the incident to the authorities and opting to dispose of the body themselves. Assisted by her coworker Luke (Pat Healy) who even designs a website documenting the story and, hopefully one day include their own findings, the two have only a few days left in their quest.

One recent guest is former movie star and now a spirit drinking spiritual guide Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) who reluctantly helps Claire. The only other Inn guest (after Claire manages to scare off the rest) is an elderly gentleman who insists on staying in one of the rooms already permanent closed. With video cameras in hand and high tech sound recorders set, the two embark on a frenzied last chance to capture their poltergeist prey.

While the chase is appealing at first the few interesting side stories of the guests never amount to anything. McGillis’ role, the only one substantially developed aside from the two main characters, is criminally neglected after a nice setup. The plot has ridiculously evident holes like the fact that while the Claire and Luke have been hunting Madeline for some time, they never bothered to check out the basement room where she died until their last day in the Inn. But those brunt of dissatisfaction goes to flaccid ending, without any answers or new mystery left for thought. It’s by-the-numbers, and the numbers don’t even add up.

Like the ghost haunting the Inn, this movie isn’t going anywhere. I regret that it made it as far as my DVD collection.

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