Prior to seeing this film, all I’d heard about it was how scary and amazing it was, and how it was one of the best horror films to come out in a while. Of course, I’d heard similar things about director Ti West’s previous film, House of the Devil, which I had yet to see. So I decided before watching Innkeepers, I’d check out the other. In short, House of the Devil was a dull 70 minutes (though with a fantastic 80s look) followed by a totally insane final 20 minutes that almost made up for it all. And then… there’s The Innkeepers.
This film follows Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), two 20-somethings that are running an inn on its final weekend while its owner is off on a paradise vacation. Luke is a self-proclaimed “ghost hunter,” but he’s really gotten Claire into it all–an easy task considering their very own inn is supposedly haunted. So while they’re trying to find a ghost during the inn’s final days, they have to deal with just a few interesting guests, including a former actress named Leanne Rease-Jones (Killy McGillis). And… that’s about it.
Where House of the Devil was a slow, dull 70 minutes with a third act that saved it, The Innkeepers was a slow, but fun 80 minutes with a third act that was… lacking satisfaction. The former had a fantastic payoff, giving you a slow burn that was worth it. This film, on the other hand, gave you a payoff that… well, didn’t make it all that worth it, to me. I usually don’t mind open endings or leaving things up to interpretation, but it seems there’s a difference between that and just plain… not telling… if that makes sense. It seemed slightly lazier, almost, the way it explains nothing about the history or what’s going on or, really, what happens at the end. I mean, you can put some of the clues together and figure out a couple things, but on the whole, I was left wanting… more… out of this movie. Think something like Iron Man, but with a much slower pace and you don’t find out anything about Jeff Bridges’ character except that he works with Tony Stark. And it builds up the conflict, but then you get… what you got anyway (not much of an encounter).
Fortunately, while it is a slow build, it’s still entertaining throughout. This is largely thanks to its two charismatic leads. Sara Paxton is goofy and bubbly (and really hot in that ‘goofy/adorable’ way), and she shares a great chemistry with the straight-faced Pat Healy. Their interactions are really what holds this movie together and makes it fun and interesting. Because on the whole, the film is more about their relationship and their conversations than it is about the ghosts. I guess that’s why it’s called The Innkeepers and not just The Inn. And I did like that. (But I still would have liked a few more scares–this is a horror movie, after all.)
If you liked House of the Devil, it’s still very much in a similar formula, just without the insane payoff. It’s not a bad movie by any means, and it’s well made. I just expected a lot more out of it, especially after all the hype that was surrounding it. Don’t come to this for the scares (the scares here are good, too, I just would have liked… more). Instead, come for Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, who do a good job holding this together.