Claire and Luke, played by Sara Paxton (Last House on the Left) and Pat Healy, are working their final shifts at the Yankee Pedlar Inn before it closes and is demolished. With the owner away and only a couple of guests, they decide to investigate the hotels haunted past and the ghost story of Madeline O’Malley. It’s not long before the pair begin to witness unexplainable and disturbing happenings in the old hotel.
The Innkeepers is written and directed by Ti West, who also brought us the surprise 2009 favorite, House of the Devil. In fact, while shooting House of the Devil, West and the crew stayed in a creepy hotel in Torrington, Connecticut, called The Yankee Pedlar, which inspired the venue in this movie.
Initially, The Innkeepers focuses on the relationship between the two leads, Claire and Luke. Their characters are believable and have an infectious rapport, it is easy to care about them very early on in the story, Sara Paxton does an incredible job playing the optimistic and charming Claire. The camera work and sound design combine old school techniques with polished, modern production making the movie look and feel fantastic throughout. The effects are simple but effective, excluding the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, which is terribly bland and generic.
The first half of the film could be easily mistaken as an extremely dry horror comedy, but the second half becomes very scary, very quickly. The dramatic change in pace and tone of the film is particularly drastic and in a way it feels as if you are watching two halves of different films. However, it’s been done exceedingly well, and I suspect most will enjoy the gentle simmer that escalates to a sudden and intense ending.
It’s likely to be slow off the block for some, and a little clumsy in places, but overall it’s a highly likable and enjoyable movie with some genuinely scary moments.