Director: Ti West
Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Ti West became known to most people with The House Of The Devil in 2009. That was his love letter to ’70s and ’80s horror movies and it was all kind of fun. If you’ve seen that movie, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, do yourself a favor and go see it. But do that some other time, right now I’m here to talk about Mr. West’s latest modern yet old school horror movie, The Innkeepers.
Now I’m not going to say that everything Ti does is golden. After all, he did make the dreadful Cabin Fever 2. But hey, I guess no one is above taking a schlock job if the money is right. While he made a great lil gem of a flick with House, he completely dropped the ball with Cabin. So with only a 50/50 record, would The Innkeepers be a return to the form that so won me over with THotD, or more forgettable direct to video droppings like CF2? Well there’s only one way to find out, so make sure you made your reservations, because we’re going to have a sleepover with The Innkeepers.
Set in the real world, and at the reportedly really haunted Yankee Peddler Inn, the movie revolves around the final two employees (the titular innkeepers) as they tend to the last few guests in the soon to be closed hotel. With a ton of time to kill, the young guy and girl spend the time doing the amateur ghost hunter thing, trying to capture a spook or two on video. With the help of a psychic ex-actress and a creepy old man demanding a specific room in the empty hotel to keep an eye on, the innkeepers soon start witnessing some all too real hauntings. And, well that’s it. No really, that’s pretty much the whole story here, which means it does not do a thing new. That said, what it does, it does very, very well.
The Innkeepers is a good old fashioned ghost story, with heavy emphases on ‘old fashioned.’ You know when people say ‘they don’t make them like that anymore?’ Yeah, they’re talking about this movie. A sad reflection of that is that pretty much whenever I heard anyone complaining about this movie, it was always the same thing: “oh it’s so slow, it takes too long to get to the good stuff.” Now I hate the ADD addled mouth breathers that say such things, I really do. They’re the reason Michael Bay makes nonstop explosion-fests that make a bazillion dollars, and movies that actually concern themselves with telling a good story with compelling characters constantly get passed on. So yeah, this movie takes its time fleshing out the characters and building suspense (oh how dare they) in a rather simple haunted house story. But while the story may be simple, writer/director Ti West is in top form and he once again proves that he knows what it takes to make a damn scary movie. It’s the kind of fright flick full of creepy dread and atmosphere and not just jump scare after jump scare accompanied by blaring music stings and crappy CGI ghosts. Hey, substance over style, what a novel concept!
This new Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films not only looks great, but it comes with a few nice extras worth crowing about. First and foremost are the two audio commentary tracks. Both have writer/editor/director Ti West on them. One of the tracks is a production commentary with both of the film’s producers and the 2nd unit director. The other is for the cast’s point of view and has Ti with actors Sara Paxton and Pat Healy. There is a sadly far too short behind the scenes featurette that’s just a hair over seven minutes. A trailer is the last special to be found on this disc. So yeah, this Blu-ray isn’t exactly overflowing with extras, but it does have two informative and fun commentaries. Oh, and the movie is freaking awesome, so I guess that’s the best ‘special feature’ of them all.
The Innkeepers is a great horror movie that is comfortable being, first and foremost, an honest to goodness horror movie. It’s not ‘hip’ nor is it ‘edgy’ and it doesn’t have an entire cast of way too pretty people straight from the CW channel in it. It is a Ti West movie, so it’s very much the kind of creepy, atmospheric horror film that sadly just doesn’t seem to be made anymore. I loved it from beginning to end, and if you’re a true horrorhead, then I know you will to. So go on, spend a night with The Innkeepers, and then try to sleep soundly afterwards.
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