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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look82.35%
Average: 11.76%
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Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Innkeepers, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Last chance for a haunting."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2011 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Ti West knows how to make his audience jump, which isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds. Harder, though, is leading up to those jumps with light comedy and deep shivers, and West pulls that off, too. The trick is to get all three working well together, and West manages that better than most, though with some bumps along the way.

It's the last weekend before the Yankee Pedlar Inn closes its doors forever, and the owner isn't even on hand for it. The last two employees, college dropout Luke (Pat Healy) and perky teenager Claire (Sara Paxton), have already closed up the top floor and have just two rooms booked on the open second, with two others set aside for their own use. And while the mother on the outs with her husband (Alison Bartlett) is annoying, Claire is a fan of the other guest, former TV star Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis). Still, Claire and Luke mostly plan to spend this last weekend worrying less about customer service than trying to dig up signs of the ghost said to haunt the place.

In some ways, West should perhaps take it as a compliment that I would have been perfectly willing to trade potential haunting for some more annoying guests and maybe interactions with other locals stuck in the service industry. That material is genuinely funny and offbeat, with Claire and Luke having mildly snarky personalities that handle that scene well, meshing nicely but also having their own voices. There's a ton of good comedy in here, but with a sneaky undercurrent of them being friends who might not see each other again after the inn and maybe wanting more. That, there, is an enjoyable film itself.

If the ghost-related material were a little more tightly integrated, West would have a heck of a movie. That's not a knock on the work he does haunting the hotel, which is top-notch. He knows how to use darkness and quiet and things just visible out of the corner of one's eye to build tension so organically that the line between slacker slice-of-life comedy and horror is invisible until the film is past it, and when he says jump, the audience does without question. It's an expertly-executed ghost story, but a rather generic one without any special connection to the characters or the situation with the inn closing. That's not a negative (although the set-up is a bit rickety at times), just a missed opportunity.

The cast handles both sides of the story handily. Sara Paxton is a particular delight, making Claire funny and adventurous with a thoroughly believable tendency toward rapid embarrassment - or freaking out, if that's the appropriate response to what happens to prove she's not quite so cool and collected as she thinks she is. Meanwhile, Pat Healy is a good pairing with her as Luke, on the cusp of not being described as young any more and starting to get a bit embittered. Still, there's a slight but important difference to how he plays scenes that are just Luke and Claire, like she brings out the best in him. Everybody else is naturally secondary to them, with Kelly McGillis doing what she can with a character that gets pushed in different directions based on the momentary needs of the movie. George Riddle brings a lot of heft to his late-arriving character.

That character is (maybe) something else for the movie to juggle, but West does know his stuff. "The Inkeepers" will get the audience to jump on cue, in no small part because of how good it is at everything else.

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originally posted: 07/31/11 22:57:34
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2011 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

7/01/14 Flipsider House of the Devil was better. This movie is let down by an unsatisfying ending. 3 stars
5/16/14 SID RUMKOWSKI Paced like a horror film should be. No MTV fast editing here. 4 stars
9/25/13 David Hollingsworth Ti West does it again with another spooky journey into the unknown 5 stars
12/11/12 action movie fan familiar eerie, gory and spooky haunted hotel story works effectively 4 stars
11/07/12 Langano Some good scares but ultimately falls short due to its disappointing ending. 3 stars
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  03-Feb-2012 (R)
  DVD: 24-Apr-2012


  DVD: 24-Apr-2012

Directed by
  Ti West

Written by
  Ti West

  Sara Paxton
  Pat Healy
  Kelly McGillis

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