I’d heard about Ti West as a fresh new voice in American horror. I’ve heard that before, though, so I approached The Innkeepers, his 2011 movie, with some skepticism.
I’m happy to report that this is a terrific little horror flick. I used the adjective “little” not to demean but to denote the film’s low budget, its lack of reliance on special effects and its emphasis on character.
Usually I’m not a huge fan of “auteurs” – that is, writer/directors – but West, who wrote the script as well as directed, smartly focuses on Claire (Sara Paxton, so natural in the role I was disappointed to learn she’s been acting since she was eight and wasn’t just discovered behind the till of a record store) and Luke, the two twentysomething hipsters manning the front desk of a Connecticut inn on a long weekend. (The movie could just as easily be set in Portland.)
Lena Dunham (Girls) is cast in a minor part, and Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, The Accused) is one of the few guests at the Yankee Pedlar Inn. There are plenty of good scares but West is most effective at building tension, only to relieve it with a laugh at his characters’ expense – up to a point.
Ultimately The Innkeepers‘ success is due to being just what it implies – a movie about two bored innkeepers who enjoy scaring each other a little too much. As with the best horror movies, The Innkeepers leaves you wondering just what happened, and what was real and what wasn’t. Of course the answer is moot – it’s just a movie, after all, and none of it’s real. But The Innkeepers got under my skin.
Trailer – The Innkeepers (HD):