Well don't worry I'm still alive. Instead of laziness however this time I'll cry THE X-FILES and the outrageous truth that I joined a gym last week. I know what you're thinking and the answer is yes---there is now a Fox Mulder poster in my bedroom. But seriously, the gym? There is a small part of me that feels like I may just be a pod person. Of course being a pod person wouldn't be so bad if we all had hair like Donald Sutherland, but who can really be that lucky?
Anyways. I'm not watching as many horror movies because I've been too busy watching trashy TV while doing the elliptical. Then when I come home I watch the X-files, go to sleep and have crazy ass dreams. I blame the duel combination of exercise and trashy TV. Or is the triple combination of exercise, trashy TV and the X-files? While we're on the subject---STOP KEEPING SCULLY AND MULDER APART THEY'RE A TEAM DAMN IT.
Today I finally pried myself away from watching the X-files and pretending to be healthy, and enjoyed the spoils of a horror movie that I had been craving to see for a while. The Innkeepers is another film made by The House of the Devil's Ti West---the penultimate king of the slow burner (second only to maybe Roman Polanski....MAYBE). Needless to say, I was more than anxious to see Ti's latest installment of terror.
Ghost stories if you are not aware, happen to be my favorite kind of horror movie. Owed mostly to the fact that I'm insanely terrified of the concept of ghosts and suspicious noises that happen in the nighttime. The Innkeepers follows the sad last days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a historical inn going out of business due to the fact that no one wants to stay there (I blame the towels, they look pretty musty).
Claire and Luke are both Pedlar employees who are on a mission to record any sign of paranormal activity they can before the inn shuts down once and for all.
There's part of me that feels like I would have not liked this as much if I had not been familiar with The House of the Devil. Technically in some ways I didn't love The Innkeepers but I did appreciate it when all was said and done. The best part about Ti West is that he is great at flipping conventions and predictability on their heads. He has this whole thing about not falling prey to cliches or what is to be expected, and he does it artfully. I'm not just talking out of my butt, there is some great, great stuff going on in this.
Most noticeably, the subdued color palette that almost amplifies the sad state of the inn, and my favorite part, the lurking camera work.
Ti seems to borrow this technique from The Shining and it works so fantastically. If you notice while watching, the camera at many times seems to be a character all on its own. It seeks out and finds the characters rather than the other way around. It works because it suggests this watchfulness that the inn or the ghost appears to have. It is this kind of thing that makes appreciate a solid ghost film.
Many I think will not like The Innkeepers because it's almost too slow. Yes that's Ti's style but here I felt like it could have used a bit of oomph. There are technically no real scares for a long time---I want to say maybe like an hour? The thing about that is, that although there is no actual scare, that doesn't mean that tension and feelings of being scared are absent. On the contrary, another thing that Ti West is great at is building up tension that never seems to go anywhere.
Some might call this a great fault of the film but I like to think of it as kind of genius. Built up tension that never releases causes even higher levels of unease. This means that The Innkeepers should scare you without actually scaring you, if you catch my drift. And we're not necessarily talking fake outs here---I mean more of the sense that our characters could be walking around in the dark with a flashlight and our hearts could be pounding BUT no ghostly figure ever pops up out of nowhere and screams. It's all about keeping you on your toes, and it does that well.
Sure, there are some pop ups and excuse me for being brutally honest when I say they are pretty fucking scary. That ghost under the sheet? Not cool! But all in all, the tension is kept at a nice high level of unease. The other great thing about The Innkeepers is that our two main characters are hilarious and a pleasure to spend an hour and 40 minutes with.
They feel real and more importantly they act like real people. Probably my favorite part that proves this is when Claire is trying to haul the big trash bag into the dumpster. Man. If that isn't me on a Sunday morning after cleaning the cat boxes than I don't know what is. Whoops, I let my cat lady show again.
Point is. The Innkeepers is a great film. Sure it's slow and nothing really scary happens for a long, long time but that doesn't mean things aren't happening. Plus, the ending scene or two is pretty outrageously awesome if you ask me.
Very.....The Sentinel and not just because it utilizes naked old men wandering around to its advantage. While there are many that find the ending less than thrilling and maybe even disappointing---I think it's admirable because it's not some stupid twist ending of flashbacks and soft core porn. It's bleak, and it's confusing but it works. It works especially when you go back and think about everything the actress said about there being 3 ghosts and deja vu and all that. Yes, I think that the longer I ruminate, the more I come away liking The Innkeepers. Yes there could have perhaps been more story behind the ghosts and just straight up more ghosts, but isn't that life? We want to be able to say we've had a ghost encounter but usually we just end up walking around with a flashlight and getting scared by an errant bird. Such is life my friends. Such is life.
It's no House of the Devil of course, but it still stands in my mind as the kind of ghost story that can be appreciated by the right people. The ghost stories where less is more and where more realistic scares trump insanely stupid ones.