Ti West gave us some of the slow burniest slow burn ever with The House of the Devil. If you don’t like the gradual build of suspense to a crescendo finish from your flicks, THotD probably wasn’t your jam and The Innkeepers isn’t likely to change your mind. If you like to watch your candles burn down to that last satisfying flicker before they extinguish for good though, your goody bag is in for a treat.
The Yankee Pedlar Inn is verging on closure during this, its final weekend in operation. The only remaining employees, Claire and Luke, are determined to play amateur ghost hunters during these last days in hopes of stirring up some evidence that the place is haunted. Legend says that Madeline O’Malley, a woman whose fiance left her at the altar, killed herself at the Yankee Pedlar on what was supposed to be her wedding day. Unsure of what to do without freaking out the guests and losing business, the owners instructed the staff to store her body in the basement for three days until the situation could be properly sorted. Come to think of it, I don’t think any situation can be “properly sorted” when it involves a 3 days old dead body.
With his Angelfire free website and public domain graphics, Luke has so far uploaded minimal spook footage, with a self-closing door being about the extent of it. Claire refuses to give up though, as her adorable little heart refuses to give up trying to communicate with the long deceased Madeline. With little luck catching anything beyond Claire’s own paranoia, our neophyte supernaturalites get a break when a TV actress-turned-spiritualist turns up to rent a room. With a bit of divination, she warns of not just one, but a trio of spookies that un-live there, and for a bonus she tosses in a warning that Claire should stay away from the basement…which means she’s gonna end up in that fucking basement minus her life, isn’t she?
To reiterate, Ti West is an advocate for gradually progressing stories. Whether you find it to be a suspenseful march of tension or the pace of a snail you’d rather salt is up to you. I might have been more into The Innkeepers if I hadn’t seen The House of the Devil first. For my 37 cents, West’s freshman feature had better surprises and a more satisfying finale, while Innkeepers sets a steadier pace but has a few too many jump scare fake outs for me. There are some ghastly visions to be had, but it take a special kind of ghost story to unnerve me and though I can applaud (mildly) the movie’s best efforts, I was still left wanting more. Especially from that epilogue… *blart*
At least it’s shot well. Like, really well. Oh, and Lena Dunham cameos as the pair’s barista-next-door if that means anything to anybody. No? I didn’t think so.
Three Stephen Gammell Illustrations out-of-Five
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