director Ti West
Writer/director Ti West, who has started a name for himself with The House of the Devil (2009) and to a lesser extent with Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), delves yet again into the horror genre with his haunted hotel film, The Innkeepers. According to the story behind the film, West was inspired by “true ghost stories” that were told while he and his crew stayed at Torrington, CT’s Yankee Pedlar Inn, so much so, he wrote a whole film around the hotel.
It’s supposed to be the final weekend for a storied hotel, said to be haunted by the abandoned bride who had owned the hotel (or something). Two geeky clerks are running the empty place, Luke and Claire (the pretty and charming Sara Paxton), serving only a couple of customers and trying to evoke the spirits within with healthy curiosity and some recording devices.
I was actually thinking how refreshing it was to see a horror film that wasn’t shot to look as though it was all done on fixed-place security cameras a la Paranormal Activity (2007) and so on. Here’s hoping that “found footage” films will soon stop being made. Not likely, I know, but I can dream, can’t I?
Kelly McGillis shows up (again in a quasi-horror film; I last noted her in Stake Land (2010)). She plays a retired television actress turned new age mystic, who engages with Paxton in some sounding out of the spirit world. Lena Dunham, now of HBO’s Girls as well as her Tiny Furniture (2010), also shows up in a real throwaway scene as an annoying cafe worker. The film isn’t all that tight in that sense.
But Paxton is the charmer here. She’s cute and wistful and goofy, giving a believable and unique vibe to the primary figure of the story. Of course, things eventually go south. It wouldn’t be a horror film if they didn’t, right?
West is more interested in building suspense than in going for cheap scares, but it’s still not an overly sophisticated thing. It has its charms, I’ll give it that. I’ll keep my eye on West though he hasn’t overtly impressed as yet.