The Innkeepers (2012)

It’s odd that though Ti West is primarily a director who tackles horror films, that if he ever decided to write a drama or comedy, he could really deliver a near masterpiece. Save for “The Roost,” and “Cabin Fever 2,” director Ti West has proven a master of slow boil horror films that are written beautifully. Featuring rich and well developed characters, director Ti West is a very strong writer and horror director who has offered some unique horror films for indie fans. Though he’s not the juggernaut horror journalists are quick to tout him as, Ti West can write damn good scripts and create likable and charming characters who are involved in horrifying situations. And when he finally delivers the boom after a long session of watching the fuse burn, it’s satisfying and absolutely twisted.

“The Innkeepers” is another of West’s signature slow boil horror films that’s very heavy on characterization and exploring the setting of the story, all with the intent of keeping audiences talking about the film long after the credits have rolled. “House of the Devil” possessed the same formula and paid off in spades and “The Innkeepers” is so much in the same vein and so utterly great as a portrait of the supernatural and how destructive being so engrossed in the paranormal can be. “The Innkeepers” isn’t so much about a ghost or entities as it is about the dangers obsession can wreak, and what happens to those who can’t master their fandom. “The Innkeepers” is an often deliberately paced and tense supernatural dramedy that centers on Claire and Luke, two innkeepers tasked with watching the Yankee Pedlar Inn, an establishment that once housed historic customers and is now about to close. With the duo doing double duty as bellhops and maids, they’re not only given the jobs of attending to the remaining customers every needs, but with gaining free reign of the hotel however they please. It’s because of this that’s allowed them to investigate the legacy of the hotel’s alleged supernatural past, and they’ve mastered a somewhat amusing chemistry that symbiotically feeds the other’s needs for thrills and chills.

Pat Healy is fantastic as the skeptical Luke, looking to make a buck off of the hotel while using the paranormal activity of the place to ensure a mainstay job in spite of the hotel’s evident closure in the imminent future. Sara Paxton dons pixy locks and an adorable demeanor as the open minded and awe inspired Claire who seeks to open the book on the hotel’s every nook and cranny and unfoil something amazing that she senses are within the walls. Plagued by nightmares whenever she rooms at the hotel, a psychic named Leanne Reese who rooms at the hotel and warns that uncovering the paranormal activity could lead to dire consequences. Like every Ti West horror film thus far, “The Innkeepers” strives in the turning of the screw and relying on the anticipation of the bang. When it delivers in horror and scares, it really excels with some shocking special effects and plays on sound effects.

But when he finally offers up the big sell in the finale, it’s a shocker, and one that is so well worth the wait. Paxton and Healy are given the weight of the film to play off of one another and they work wonderfully. Healy is delightfully sarcastic and acerbic while Paxton is just all kinds of adorable as the meek Claire whose enthusiasm for the hotel is infectious. This is a unique turn for Paxton and she used her pixy appeal to lower the defenses of audiences, allowing the ultimate scare. “The Innkeepers” is a masterful demonstration in slow burn horror and one I loved. Director Ti West is a wonderful storyteller who understands complex characters and really deep and engrossing protagonists while being able to successfully slip them in to extraordinary situations. With an eye on calculated narrative and whopper of a finisher, this is a horror film very much worthy of the ghost movie sub-genre.

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