Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Days of Halloween Redux: The Innkeepers

2011, Ti West -- download

Last year we watched The House of the Devil, a retro feeling indie horror movie that I actually loved more in retrospect than in actual watching.  It was something about the setup.  The setup of most horror movies is what most call "the boring part".  This is the part lacking in scares, where we set the characters, location and tone in place.  All too often it is enhanced via fake-out background music or creepy angles that make you believe you have moved from the setup into the actual scare. But a good setup gets you to care for the characters and actually like it as a movie, instead of just a chance to frighten you.

The Innkeepers has a great setup and does a brilliant job of blending from the setup through to the scare.  Things just fade into creepy almost immediately and seamlessly.  It is the last weekend for the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a classic old hotel with a history of haunting.  Claire and Luke are assigned to the graveyard shift for this final weekend, which is good because they run a website about the hauntings at the hotel.  The two are uncomfortable, nervous people. Luke is more than a bit of nerd and Claire is a recent college dropout and more than a bit interested in being connected to something.  She seems to have latched onto Luke's ghost hunting and later latches onto a washed up actress who comes to the hotel, while in town for a psychic convention.  And when ghostly things begin to happen, we see she really isn't cut out for those kinds of encounters.

Neither is Luke.  When the ghostly return of Madeline, a woman who hung herself in a room upstairs, becomes evident, Luke runs.  Was he here to actually find ghosts or just trying to impress Claire with his website?  It is as if the actual hauntings have interrupted the last chance he has to actually connect with flighty Claire.  Cowardly or not, he does return, to get Claire, not actually attend the job post he just abandoned. Things have escalated and actress-medium Ms. Reese-Jones has convinced Claire that she has to leave the hotel... NOW.  Oh wait, there is that old man in the room where Madeline hung herself, the guy who just wanted to spend one last night in the room where he had his honeymoon.  Don't go upstairs Claire and definitely don't go... downstairs.

I can honestly say I find this movie a good movie whether or not its ghostly cliches are familiar or not.  It has an old feel to it but is definitely set in today.  And unlike many movies with a 70s feel, it did not annoy the hell out of me with an empty focus on vacuous characterizations.  I am looking forward to this time next year when I hopefully will be watching West's new movie?  Maybe next year I will call this Nights of Halloween which suddenly became obvious.