Imagine yourself working a dead end job at a closing inn, completely unhappy with the way that your life is going. Then, add an unrestful spirit who died there years before and your mediocre life has just gotten a little more exciting. For Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), their last weekend working at the Yankee Pedlar quickly becomes out of the norm in the Ti West flick, The Innkeepers. The movie is a creepy and at times, humorous take on the ghost story, and it is one of the few ghost tales that was actually done right.
The movie opens with Claire and Luke starting their weekend shift at the Yankee Pedlar, which is closing its doors after over a century in the business. At first, the weekend seems as though it is going to be a bust; their only guests are a bitchy mother and her son, and an equally bitchy, washed up TV star. However, when Claire decides that the two employees set out to determine if the Inn is in fact haunted, things take a turn for the creepy.
While Luke goes upstairs to sleep, Claire views his ghost-themed website, based on the Pedlar, and she becomes intrigued with the story of Madelyn O’Malley, a woman who hung herself in room 353 after her fiancee stood her up at the altar. Claire takes a recording device into one of the areas of the inn and is shocked to catch a piano playing by itself.
Claire quickly becomes uneasy as she becomes more and more infatuated with the ghost who lurks inside her place of work. She tries urging Luke, the apparent paranormal-aficionado, to help her investigate but he continually blows her off. However, the activity starts to pick up for Claire, resulting in some great scares.
After freaking out about catching an EVP, Claire interacts with Leanne Reese-Jones (Kelly McGillis), the former TV star who now considers herself a psychic. Leanne, who likes to be called Lee, pulls out a spirit crystal and tells Claire to ask the spirits questions. Lee discovers that something really terrible had happened there and she insists that Claire stay out of the basement. So, you obviously know that Claire isn’t going to listen.
In an effort to calm Claire down, Luke gets her drunk. Hmmm…typical guy move. Anyway, the two go down into the basement to conduct an EVP session and they make contact with Madelyn. Immediately after this, things get worse and everything starts to fall into place.
As I’ve said before, West is one of my favorite directors, mostly due to his film, The House of the Devil. He has a way of creating an extremely eery and unsettling atmosphere by slowly building up to the action. The director is brilliant at pacing things, creating that high anticipation feeling as you prepare yourself for the scare, and then he succeeds in scaring you when you least expect it. There were a few moments that I actually jumped, due to the way West paced the scenes, and that hardly ever happens to me while I’m watching horror movies.
West took a story idea that we’ve seen before and made it into his own. The two main characters were cast perfectly because Paxton and Healy had great chemistry together. The pair actually seemed as though they had worked with each other for years and had been best friends. I was particularly pleased with Paxton’s performance because it seemed so real; it felt like I was watching a real girl who wasn’t acting, and I wanted to be friends with her.
The story is slow-burn, which West is known for, and I enjoy that aspect in his films. The pacing of the film and the development of the characters allowed us to really get to know them and feel scared for them when they were put in danger.
During the film I found myself both laughing and being on the edge of my seat with anticipation. There was a good balance of both in the film, and I think that is why it succeeded. Throughout the film, my heart would race, especially particular scenes where the audience could not really see what was happening; we were seeing everything as the characters were seeing them.
My only problem with the movie was the ending because it seemed as though it was abrupt and unexplained. I believe that the point of the movie was that everything happens for a reason and people are brought to certain places by fate. However, I wish that we could have seen what happened more. Another small issue that I had was that there were really only two ghosts in the entire movie, which is weird considering the Inn was supposed to be one of the most haunted areas in New England.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film because it was paced extremely well, it had likeable characters, and it had a good balance of humor and fear. I was pleased with the performances by Paxton and Healy and I enjoyed their characters; they weren’t too annoying and fake rather, they were like real people you could relate to. The story provided some decent scares and it had me wanting to learn more throughout the entire film. I highly recommend this movie because it is a fun watch!