I enjoyed director Ti West’s film House of the Devil so I was looking forward to seeing to this film but if it appeared in cinemas here in Britain I never saw it so I had to settle for the DVD. It had the same slow build-up of tension with great character development and finishes in a great climax. So many of the modern ghost stories lose it in the third act but I thought this film managed to finish just fine.
The Yankee Pedlar Inn is soon closing its doors for the last time and two employees are left looking after the place while the owner suns himself on a beach on Barbados. Nerdy awkward Claire (Sara Paxton) and geeky college dropout Luke (Pat Healy) want to use the opportunity of the inn being nearly empty to explore the place for signs of ghosts. They are both staying at the hotel themselves so that they can swap shifts on the reception desk. Only one room is occupied, by a woman, who has left her husband for the weekend to teach him a lesson, and her young son.
Another guest arrives; Leanne Reese-Jones (Kelly McGillis) and Claire recognises her as a former TV actress because she’s fan. When Claire takes Lee some towels and tries to talk to her about how much she enjoyed her shows but Lee is just plain bitchy to her and leaves her feeling depressed.
That night Claire is alone at the desk and she decides to try a bit of amateur ghost hunting with a microphone and a tape recorder. She believes the ghost of Madeleine O’Malley haunts the inn after she hung herself when her fiancé left her on her wedding day many decades earlier. Now finally we start getting to the real haunting after a couple of jump scares. As she tries the tape recorder she hears static and faint sounds then a piano playing. There’s a piano in the reception are so she goes through to it and the sound stops. She slowly approaches the piano and something invisible plays two keys.
Claire run upstairs and bashes on the door of Luke’s room to wake him but he’s still half asleep and wants to wait until morning. As she heads downstairs Lee appears at her door to chide her for being so noisy. Claire apologizes then explains to her what she was doing. Lee invites Claire into her room gives her a drink and says she thinks she can help her. Since leaving acting Lee has become a spiritual healer and knows how to contact the spirits. She brings out her crystal pendulum and Claire asks the spirits questions. Lee doesn’t get a very clear answer from them but she does sense danger down the basement and warns Claire not to go down there.
I enjoyed this film. It takes its time to establish the characters and the setting and I felt drawn into the story and keeps the signs of haunting small at first and builds it up to the mad rush of fear at the end. It has some similarities to films like The Haunting by great use of sound to suggest rather than relying on showing CGI spirits. It also focuses completely on Claire and gives the film an ambiguity about whether things are really happening or Claire is just imagining it all.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- The Innkeepers (noframeof.wordpress.com)
- The Innkeepers – review (guardian.co.uk)
- The Innkeepers (2011) (noeltanti.com)