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Review: The Innkeepers

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.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Stake Land

Martin (Connor Paolo) travels with Mister (Nick Damici) across an American landscape devastated by a vampire plague. Government has fallen, the cities are infested and the survivors are left to defend themselves against the bestial vampires that come out every night. Teenage Martin was living with his parents when the plague started and his father was trying to get his truck fixed to get them away from the vampires but one comes into the garage while Martin is outside and kills his family. Mister appears and kills the vampire then takes Martin along with him, sure the boy will not survive alone. They travel north away from the worse affected areas and take time out so that Mister can train Martin how to fight vampires. North is a place called New Eden that is supposed to be vampire free and they are headed there to see. The vampires in this film are like those from I Am Legend attacking with no sign of intelligence, they just attack like wild animals.

Most nights they have to find themselves a secure place but they also sometimes stay at small towns that successfully barricaded themselves against the vampires and which exist on the economics of bartering essential supplies and where there is still some element of normalcy. Between these places the countryside is dangerous and not just because of vampires. On the road they see a nun (Kelly McGillis) being chased by two men dressed in rags and furs. Mister kills both of them and they take the Sister with them since there really nowhere safe for her to go. She says they claimed to Christian and could help her but instead they tried to rape her.

As they travel they hear a cult preacher on the radio preaching about the vampires being sent from God. They call themselves the Brotherhood and seem to determined to make things much worse for everyone attacking barricades to allow vampires to invade the fragile sanctuaries of civilisation still left. Worse for Mister is that one of he men he killed rescuing the Sister is the son of their leader Jebediah Loven (Michael Cerveris)

This is great film thanks to the believable performances from the leads and script that keeps a tight focus on Martin’s story without wandering off into subplots. The narrow focus means we only gets hints of a bigger picture which is a good way of leaving it open for a sequel, as is the open ending. I think it draws the viewer into the story when you know as much the characters do and have to stick with them to find out more. It is a vampire film but there’s no glamour to these so the Twihards can bog off and the rest of us can relax and enjoy it.

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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