Opening with an assortment of spooky photo’s accompanied by a creepy score from Jeff Grace, director Ti West sets the atmosphere for The Innkeepers from the get go. Anyone familiar with West’s smouldering and finely filmed House of the Devil will know he likes to take time to build up the characters with a final pay off. Innkeepers is no exception. That said, it is pacer than the aforementioned with a few cheap scares up front courteous of a PC YouTube like video.
The acting is first rate, very naturalist with lead Sara Paxton on form as intelligent dropout Claire. Paxton is very watchable delivering a good performance thanks to an equally good script. There’s logic in the screenplay as far as if you were in a hotel and interested in the paranormal you’d do the same – set up an investigation.
There is a small cast of quirky characters including 80’s star Kelly Mcgillis who seems to be having a revival now in horror after featuring in Stake Land. There’s a psychic, an odd old man, obligatory ghost bride and cellar. There’s ominous corridors, creaky doors, piano cues and great sound design which add to its creep factor. There’s plenty of jump scares and red-herrings.
E.V.Ps, web cams in amongst the realistic sets gives credibly and suck you into Claire’s and Luke’s (Pat Healy) investigation plight. It’s an old-school horror with the music and sound playing a big part, much of the suspense comes from what you don’t see. But West’s visuals of what you do see are extremely haunting. It’s a homage of sorts that refreshingly leaves you with some unanswered questions and loose ends.
Debatably you can argue it builds to little more than a series of scares, yet, it’s more consistent and less glossy than recent horror Insidious, furthermore grounded than 1408 and far-more finely executed with its wonderful sets, camera work and narrative than the Paranormal Activities.
Yes – it’s a essentially a haunted house flick, but what a chilling, hair raising and perfectly constructed haunted inn film it is.