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The Innkeepers



The InnkeepersReviewer: Jessie Howells

Director: Ti West

Stars: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy

Released: 8th June 2012 (UK)

Certificate:  15

I first discovered the Innkeepers in the back pages of Empire and the screen caps alone caught my interest. I will admit I am awful when it comes to horror films, I find the ‘scare a minute’ type of horror annoying. I find that yes these films are a lot of fun to watch in a cinema, as you gasp and squeal with a room full of strangers, but overall it detracts from the film itself. As we watch these films we ignore the story and the characters as we watch behind them, in the cracks of the doors and in the slightly open windows, our heart quickening with the anticipation of the next fright. The Innkeepers for me offered something different it offered a film which is more focused on story and character than on persistently frightening the audience.

Ti West is a very young director, and his films have, with the exception of his 2001 short “The Wicked” failed to wow, but this one seems to be the bird that broke out of the nest, surpassing his other outings. This film picked up a special award at the Toronto After Dark Festival for being the audience choice for the scariest film of 2011. I believe that the reason it is so scary is that it plays with our modern expectations of horror, building the tension because nothing is happening, where we expect lamps and pots and pans to be chucked around, so when we are eventually frightened the feeling is worse.

Classic horror, let’s be honest isn’t something all of us have delved into, but watching it I have found that we see all the modern industry tricks in these early films. The Innkeepers is a lot like these early films which build up suspense and slowly build the tension. This creates an effect that will even be scary for those sections of the horror audience that while you sit shaking and sweating, laugh their way out of the cinema. I understand that this subversion of expectations may not affect all audiences, this film does provide a bit of gore and the necessary moments of unwavering terror for those hilarious moments in big groups.

The scares are all well and good but without a good cast a film is fighting a losing battle. Sara Paxton plays the awkward and confused Claire, who finds herself alone on the night shift in the Yankee Pedlar Inn. She is a highly likable character, and much like the film itself she is unlike the typical horror blonde, unlike the classic horror damsel. You see her face the spirit not shy away and hide. The supporting cast is also complimentary to the film and its story.

But I have yet to reveal what makes this film a truly terrifying horror. The Yankee Pedlar Inn is a real hotel at which Ti West stayed when he filmed “The House of the Devil”.

The Wall Street Journal reported this chilling information, they quote Ti West writing that “There was a lot of weird stuff, weird dreams. Weird things happening.”  They report “He became conversant with a young night clerk named Luke Edwards, who entertained him with ghost stories about the inn and a website to which he contributed reports of paranormal activity—including a recording of spirit voices made at the Yankee Pedlar.” Knowing this makes the film more real, and brings it, not to be to cheesy, to life. This authenticity, unlike the see through found footage films, makes it more terrifying.

I implore people to watch this film. It is both a good laugh and a fantastic scare, one not to be missed.

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