Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Film Review: The Innkeepers (2011)

The Innkeepers (Review)
United States/2011
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...the atmosphere is amazing as it masterfully uses its tone, music, and setting."

Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are employees at a hotel that is about to close. During the final week of operation, the pair begin ghost hunting aggressively in hopes of capturing genuine proof of the ghost that haunts the Yankee Pedlar Inn -- Madeline O'Malley.

The story in The Innkeepers works well as a camp-fire ghost story, hauntingly revolving around the spooky hotel guest Madeline O'Malley. We see both characters are interested in ghost and want to capture paranormal evidence before the hotel closes. So, when they're not complaining about the guests or their unsuccessful lifes, they -- particularly she -- goes around the hotel trying to capture solid proof. Now, most of the time, these investigations lead to nothing as ghostly appearances -- visually or sonically -- occur far and few in between. But, these few appearances works as great payoffs for the often too slow pace and buildup. The ending of the film is great, and I enjoy the very subtle imagery at the end -- it left a lasting impression.

The story, however, really moves at a almost dreadful pace, and I can only imagine how those feel that don't enjoy horror movies already. Sometimes, the slow tension leads to nothing, or something unrewarding -- like a gag jump-scare. The dreadful tension works well for the scares with actual payoffs, whether it be a loud jump-scare, story progression, or creepy imagery, but not so much for the duds. If you're looking for a jump-scare gallery, you'll be disappointed, as this film relies heavily on its suspense and atmosphere. On that note, the atmosphere is amazing as it masterfully uses its tone, music, and setting.

The acting is great, especially from Sara Paxton. They capture the hipster, "who cares" attitude well, and are likable - there friendship, or complicated friendship, is also very believable, albeit cliché. The musical score really fits the haunted hotel setting, I enjoyed it. The special effects and makeup, although lightly used, are effective. Ti West continues to improve as writer, director, and editor for his films. Technically speaking, everything went smoothly.

Overall, The Innkeepers is great slow-burning haunted hotel story. The story of Madeline O'Malley is interesting, the setting is used wisely and creepily, the atmosphere is immersive and spooky, and the few jump-scares it effectively uses are really effectively used. Fans of slow-burner horror films will enjoy this film the most, and those are the same fans I highly recommend a purchase to. Everyone else, you should rent or stream before purchasing.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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