It takes about 50 minutes before anything remotely close to scary happens in THE INNKEEPERS, a ghost story movie with a homegrown feel. Even then, the scary moment takes place in a dream so it doesn’t really count. Up until this point, our time is spent with Claire and Luke (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy), the front desk clerks at the Yankee Pedlar Inn. The inn is entering into its last weekend in business. Apparently no one wants to stay there any more. This could be because the inn is haunted but I doubt it. As someone who has spent some time at the inn, and very little at that, I can tell you that it was one of the worst hotel stays I’ve had in my life.
THE INNKEEPERS somehow managed to generate enough indie buzz to register on my radar despite only playing on all of 27 screens during its theatrical run. The trailer sold it as stylish and psychological, like one of these underground horror gems that might one day be sold to and devoured by the masses. It was downright chilling but these particular thrills only come near the end of the film, leaving an awful long time to lose all interest in seeing them. I felt trapped watching this film, like I was a guest at this hotel who had already paid up his stay and didn’t want to waste the money by leaving. I also experienced an odd curiosity as to whether the film was ever going to get better. It doesn’t.
The problem with THE INNKEEPERS is writer/director, Ti West. He obviously has a very high opinion of his abilities and a very low opinion of our intelligence. Not only does he subject us to scene after painful scene of Claire and Luke waffling back and forth between wanting to know whether the inn is haunted or being too scared to find out, but he does so with what seems like the most simple of direction to his actors. Be pouty here, Claire. Be sarcastic here, Luke. Now be silly! Now be drunk! Now be scared! It’s all so stiff and it most certainly didn’t get there by being scared.
Oh, and what did Kelly McGillis do to deserve this?
Review copy provided by eOne Entertainment.