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The Innkeepers Review

Director: Ti West

Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, Lena Dunham, George Riddle, Brenda Cooney

Running Time: 101 minutess

Certificate: 15

Synopsis: Whilst the Yankee Pedlar Inn prepares to close its doors forever, its two remaining staff members, Claire (Paxton) and Luke (Healy), try to prove the existence of the hotel’s resident ghost. But as they delve into the building’s grisly past, they discover some secrets are best kept buried…

West’s fourth feature film highlights how much he has matured as a director (especially after the abomination that was CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER), and reveals his potential for a very promising future. The basic premise, when stripped down to the bare bones, is one we’ve heard a thousand times before; a reputedly haunted building is investigated by a pair of friends, who are looking for excitement in their otherwise mundane lives. However, West deals with the generic themes in a way that is refreshing when compared to many modern horror films. He lets the audience’s imagination do a certain amount of the work, and takes the time to introduce them to the little world he has created, which is a trait reminiscent of the Hitchcockian school of filmmaking. His ‘less-is-more’ style, the film’s content, and the empathetic characters help you to forget that the premise is as old as the genre itself.

It is easily discernible when watching Claire and Luke that West also penned the script for THE INNKEEPERS, as a certain naturalism pervades their demeanour. They are real characters, not like the instantly forgettable vapid creatures who are usually the protagonists in such a narrative. Claire is a quirky free spirit, but she has equally intriguing physical and mental flaws; she’s stubborn, reactionary, and suffers from asthma. Luke is intelligent, humorous and kind, but he is also the epitome of the beta male, and is infused with a bitter misanthropy. Their performances, along with West’s ever-improving grasp of the genre and its tropes create a formidable onscreen chemistry.

Perhaps the most admirable quality that can be attributed to West’s effort, is that he did what he set out to do, without worrying about what is considered popular or safe. He has shunned cheap thrills and instant gratification for believable characters, suspense and a methodical pace that grips you, before gently leading you into a vicious metaphorical throttling at times. If you find yourself jaded by the polished and predictable contemporary horrors that take few risks, and appear to be packaged and pumped out at a blistering pace these days, then do give THE INNKEEPERS a chance.

  THE INNKEEPERS is released in UK cinemas today.

Martin has been a film buff (or geek, if you prefer) for as long as he can remember. However, he lives and longs for storytelling of all kinds, and writes across numerous mediums to feed his insatiable appetite. He lives in north-west London, and his favourite films are, possibly: PAN'S LABYRINTH, THEY LIVE, PSYCHO, HIGH FIDELITY, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, STAND BY ME, SIDEWAYS and OFFICE SPACE.

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