Bottom Line: Say goodnight to The Innkeepers.
Directed by: Ti West
Starring: Brenda Cooney, Kelly McGillis, Pat Healy, Sara Paxton
A few tips for the consideration of all the poor souls involved with The Innkeepers. Number one: Never assume the audience’s intelligence quotient is as monstrously low as your own. If we’re watching a horror movie, we’ve likely seen more than a few before to pique our further interest. If we hear a character calling for an unresponsive other for five minutes straight, we’re not going to be surprised when a dead and/or possessed body appears out of the blue. Number two: If you plan on pursuing the “things that go bump in the night plot,” do it with some originality. In both tactic and premise, this film seems a vilely bastardized cross between Paranormal Activity and The Shining. Last but certainly not least: Never cast Sara Paxton in a horror movie. Perhaps her distant relation to Bill Paxton took our interest when she first debuted in 2004, but after last year’s Shark Night, our backs are turned to her and unable to forgive her.
The Innkeepers is a film all too upbeat to call a horror movie, dare I say all too tedious to call entertainment. I shouldn’t have to research whether or not this is a horror-comedy, and I won’t. In the case that the film was intended as a horror-comedy, everything about it failed miserably, as the quirky jokes evoke no more than nervous laughter. As a pure horror, however, it’s just as much a failure, with a far more blatant appreciation for the “awkward moment” than, say, When Harry Met Sally. At first, the employment of loud noises is mildly amusing as a method of making an audience jump as well as diffusing the prior horror, but the overuse of the method grows predictable and obnoxious rather rapidly.
The Innkeepers isn’t completely terrible. There is the occasionally Good Samaritan to come along and help. Kelly McGillis shows a great amount of chutzpah in her ability to stand out in between two asinine leads. She’s aged quite a bit (and looks it even more) since her days of Top Gun and Witness, but her performance is one of few highlights. A few other honorable mentions that would be difficult to pass by are the cinematography and the music. The wide-angle shots of hallways, combined with the well-orchestrated music (hooray, no screeching violins here), create a total of about a minute or two of suspense. Again, these few bright spots help, but they don’t save The Innkeepers from standing as a quotidian horror movie. You just can’t polish an old turd.