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The Innkeepers

2011-2012 horror film written, directed, and edited by Ti West.

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While not as good as West's previous horror outing, "The Innkeepers" is creepy fun.

  • Dec 30, 2011
*** out of ****

It would seem that haunted house movies are making a return. Most recently, we got the surprising little horror flick "Insidious" - which dealt with a struggling family that was literally facing demons - and in 2009, there was this delightfully suspenseful and tense film known as "The House of the Devil"; and while it wasn't technically a haunted house film - since the house wasn't technically possessed or haunted by anything (it was all in the inhabitants) - but oh, the house was pretty damn creepy. Now, the director of that film - Ti West - has returned to familiar grounds once again with "The Innkeepers"; a strange, clever ghost story that is about as delightful and genuine as the film that preceded it in Mr. West's career.

If you know me, and have been following my review contributions for a while now, you'll remember that I absolutely adored "The House of the Devil", and therefore I felt this film had some pretty big shoes to fill. I was perfectly fine if it could only fill them half-way - because that's better than nothing - but it would have been a nice little shocker if it had turned out a perfect fit. While it isn't an instant classic-in-the-making like the said film; "The Innkeepers" is spooky - and also very, very good at what it does.

Since hotels are the perfect place for paranormal going-ons these days; West sets his story in The Yankee Pedlar Inn, which is to close down for good very soon. While the owner is away, two employees - Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) - look after the inn and anyone who checks in during these last few days. For a while, the film toys with the eternal question: what's an innkeeper to do? The question gives the film a chance at building up suspense for a bit; to make us wait for the horror part of the story to kick in, and believe me, when it does; it most certainly DOES.

Claire and Luke share a mutual appreciation for ghost stories and paranormal activity. There's a legend that originated inside the hotel walls that tells the melancholy tale of a bride who hung herself when her groom stood her up on their wedding day. The young innkeepers decide to spend some time ghost-hunting; a lot of which doesn't kick in until the second half of the film, because the first half is almost entirely devoted to giving us a feel for these people and what they're about. They turn out to be very endearing - in the end - if not slightly one-dimensional. But in this case, they are so likable that one-dimensional is better than no dimension at all.

While the duo is out recording ghostly audio recordings and the like; two guests check in at the inn. One is an actress-turned-spiritual-medium, Leanne "Lee" Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis); and the other is an odd old man (George Riddle) with important ties to the hotel and its past inhabitants; perhaps even the ghost of the bride.

While it's mostly a good time at the movies, the film does have its share of problems. At times, the focus on suspense reduces the screenplay to reliance on standard genre formula - which isn't a necessarily bad thing as long as I'm kept entertained and engaged (which I was). I can gladly say that, thanks to the efforts from just about everyone involved, I was never bored; but a problem is a problem, and there's a few considerable bumps in the road to the movie's climax - which is, by the way, far less impressive than I anticipated. But let's not let that spoil our fun.

There are two halves that complete the whole of the heart for this film. One half is the chemistry shared between stars Paxton and Healy; with the former showing more talent than she ever has on-screen prior to this, while the latter shows that he's a genuine funnyman - one who I will surely look out for in the near future. The second half is West's direction; which is always spot-on. I admire his eye for tension and scares - of which there are plenty. I admit that it's a bit of a change in general tone in comparison to West's previous feature, but fans will not be disappointed. There are plenty of basic stylistic queues that those happily - or unhappily - familiar with West's past films will pick up on without effort; and this very style is illuminated by Jeff Grace's creepy score and Eliot Rockett's beautiful cinematography.

"The Innkeepers" is plenty far from perfection, but it's got more than enough going for it. Ti West seems fully on board for this one - as he has been for all of his films do date - as are the cast members. If you're one of those people who believes not all horror needs to be sadistic and gory, then this is another ingeniously ghastly marvel; if only a minor one at that. But hey: they tried, and they succeeded. I enjoyed the hell out of "The Innkeepers" and I'd definitely recommend it to any fellow horror fans out there. For the unassociated; it's funny and scary enough to suffice if you come in with an open mind. It's no classic - in my honest opinion - but if you know what the word "solid" means, well; then there you have it.

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January 01, 2012
Yeah, I remember your adoration for House of the Devil, and I liked the film too (but not as much as you did). I like ghastly marvels and beautiful storytelling that feels gruesome and yet, there is hardly any blood or gore. Methinks I'll get this ondemand...
January 01, 2012
If you're willing to fork up 10 bucks for two nights, go for it.
More The Innkeepers reviews
review by . June 05, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
            THE INNKEEPERS      I am a big fan of ghost movies mainly because I think they really exist and I have reason for thinking that. That all is another story for another time but as of right now I am talking about "The Innkeepers", which was a really good film by "The House of the Devil" director Ti West. Now I did like that film and West's style so I was pretty sure I would like this one. Thankfully I …
Quick Tip by . June 05, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
This was a really well done movie and had that old school fell to it. I really enjoyed the commentaries on this disc and the special features. I do recommend this film but know that it is not your typical horror film. But if you stick with the film there are some genuine creepy/scary moments.
review by . February 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I like independent horror. It is a welcome treat and provides a freshness that Hollywood horror had often ignored. I lucked out when I managed to view Ti West’s latest limited movie release on demand. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that much ecstatic or impressed with director Ti West’s 80‘s baby-sitter horror homage “House of the Devil”. I thought the film was good, but felt a little incomplete. One thing I could not deny was that Ti West had vision and he may well …
review by . February 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         I’ve noticed that when a filmmaker has the temerity to develop horror movie characters beyond what would be required of them in slashers, which is usually nothing, the films are deemed slow, uneventful, and completely lacking in thrills and chills. Have we lost our ability to care about what happens to these people, to appreciate the anticipation of a scary moment, to savor suspense as it builds to a screaming climax? Genuine terror has been …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


The Yankee Pedlar Inn is closing down for good; and but two employees must work in those final few days. In that time, they come face-to-face with the phantoms and ghosts that lie behind the hotel walls; all while two guests - both who seem to know their fair share about the building's grim past - occupy two rooms.
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Horror, Comedy, Kelly Mcgillis, Ti West, Sara Paxton, Pat Healy


Director: Ti West
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Release Date: VOD: 12-30-2011, Limited Theatrical Release: 2-3-2012
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ti West
DVD Release Date: Information not yet released.
Runtime: 101 min.
Studio: Glass Eye Pix, Dark Sky Films
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