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Please please please ignore all the harsh reactions that this film brought with it. Please. It's a modern horror film you really should see. The Innkeepers follows the story of Claire (Sara Paxton), a young woman working at the reception of a small, practically vacant hotel with her co-worker, Luke (Pat Healy). With the hotel closing down in two days time, the two decide that it's a perfect opportunity to investigate the hotel for a rumoured spirit that's been living there since her death many years ago, unable to leave.
The Innkeepers just may be one of the best recent horror movies that nobody has seen, although I still haven't seen The House of the Devil so I may be wrong. I hadn't heard of this movie until recently, and as it turns out most people haven't even heard of Ti West either, so I'm not alone. Well, I'd heard of Ti West, but you know what I mean. I hope. This film is great, and Ti West has proved himself to be a director worth watching. It's honestly saddening when I come across hidden gems like this one as it's a film that's gone really far under the radar, yet rubbish like Annabelle and Devil's Due receive wide releases. I shouldn't get surprised as I'm pretty much used to it now, but it still tears me apart a little and that's why I need you to watch this film, there'll be nothing left of me if you don't.
The Innkeepers features the scariest on-screen hotel since The Shining. In a lot of ways, this film reminisces The Shining, but at the same time it's the complete opposite. The Innkeepers has its fair share of familiar story tropes, but that doesn't stop it from being very effective, in particular because of its set pieces. This film takes place in an old, condensed and dying hotel, whereas the Overlook Hotel from The Shining is a broad, modern and rather popular piece of architecture. They're both incredibly scary, but for completely different reasons. This hotel feels claustrophobic, rarely showing us scenes set outside, and when they do it's for a very short period of time.
And because I feel like I need to reference yet another famous horror movie, this film takes a Jaws like approach to its scares. They don't appear frequently, but they become more and more common as the film goes on, with the ending giving us everything. It can get incredibly creepy, and Ti West manages to sustain plenty of tension along the way. The first truly scary moment we get is built entirely on suspense and tension, and while there's a few jump scares here and there, these jump scares wouldn't have been nearly as effective if it weren't for the high levels of tension present in the moments beforehand.
Pat Healy is an actor who I've really come around on in recent months. I've never really disliked him, but I just haven't really noticed him in too many films. Lately, however, this has changed. He's popped up in several films and I've enjoyed his presence in all of them. The Innkeepers is no exception. He gives yet another excellent performance in this film, although it's not quite up there against his sensational performance in this year's Cheap Thrills, which is another under the radar film you should seriously check out.
As well as Pat Healy giving a good performance, who only plays a supporting character, Sara Paxton does just as good a job. It took me a while to realise it, but she's also Healy's co-star in Cheap Thrills, although unlike Healy, she gives a much better performance in this. Her performance is spot-on, giving her character the occasional child-like characteristics, but also the much needed maturity. Her character is incredibly eager, and her performance is too.
After gaining an interest in this film, I discovered so many people to describe it as Ti West's slowest film, which is saying something. So I went into this expecting an incredibly slow-burning horror film, but this isn't necessarily the case. It's slow, there's no doubt about that, but the film is always moving forward. It's always finding some way to set something up or to introduce a certain character or piece of information. It sets up these characters and then the haunting begins. Given the plot, this film needed to be slow. it's trying to be realistic and things like this don't just jump out at you right away, they take their time, leading to a conclusion where everything is set free.
To sum up, The Innkeepers is a highly under the radar horror film with excellent performances from both of the two leads, a slow, but necessary pace and some incredibly suspenseful scares. Ti West is a director us horror fans should look out for.
3 1/2 Stars