Premise: It’s the last weekend that a spooky Inn will be open, and the two employees working there are intent on capturing evidence of the ghost that haunts it before they leave. Even more than the concept, I was drawn in because it is Ti West’s follow-up to House of the Devil (which I enjoyed greatly), and it has a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes (not bad for a horror movie).
-I’ll admit, I was initially pretty drawn into this movie, on promise alone of something good eventually happening. House of the Devil was a pretty good slow burn, so I was excited at first for The Innkeepers. While the initial intrigue went away somewhat quickly, there was at least a 10 minute period at the start of the film when I was excited.
-Chills were kept on a minimum, but there was one scene that actually worked. A séance done in the basement of the Inn near the end of the film, was actually a legitimately well done scene. Using actual suspense, and without showing too much, it actually made me use my imagination to determine what was happening off camera to provide perhaps the only true scare of the entire film. Funny how the only good moment of the entire film occurred off camera.
-It has cool promotional material?
-It has pretty close to every cliche you could possibly insert into a ghost movie.
-I don’t know who this actress is who starred in this is, but she was bad. Real bad. OK, I’ll Wikipedia her real quick.
Sara Paxton (distant relation to Bill Paxton). A couple crappy TV shows I’ve never heard of. Oh, she’s the girl who got raped in the Last House on the Left remake… awesome… Oh, and she was also in Stake Land (fart noise). I’m sure she’ll eventually have a long career in the direct-to-DVD horror business. Anyway, she dragged The Innkeepers into the dirt. It was a nonstop barrage of terrible acting. I’d say the acting was on par with, like, a CBS sitcom. Or a high-end Nickelodeon made-for-TV movie. She was so over-the-top bubbly and annoying, it was painful to watch after about 15 minutes.
-The first “big scare” is followed immediately (and I mean immediately) by 30 seconds of the corniest, Disney Channel-esk, horrible slapstick comedy I’ve ever seen. It was humor on par with like an 8-year-old. I was actually taken aback by it, it was so ridiculously shitty.
-In fact, this whole movie played out like it was the darkest Disney Channel movie ever made. This movie could have had a laugh track, and it wouldn’t have felt out-of-place. There were extended comedy scenes throughout, like spending a full minute watching Ms. Paxton attempt to throw a garbage back in a dumpster (but it’s too heavy for her AAAAAHHHHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh no, pause the movie, Leno is starting!) Some of the bloody stuff (about 2 minutes of total screen time in the film) would be too much for Disney Channel, and there may or may not have been language (the dialogue was too shitty for me to remember), but a few changes to that stuff, make the ending slightly less grim, do some easy recasting, and this could have easily been Lizzy McGuire and the Haunted Hotel.
-Slightly ambiguous ending has no real payoff, and is way darker than it should be, given that I just basically watched a terrible comedy film. It’s not a horror-comedy so much as it’s a shitty comedy with random horror elements. In fact if it went full comedy and didn’t take itself seriously at all, it would still be a bad movie, but it would be moderately better than what it is now.
-It was split into “chapters” with title cards that often didn’t feel like necessary cut points in the story, nor did they feel complementary to the attitude of the rest of the film.
Final Thoughts: What the fuck? Wait, I’m looking up the rest of Ti West’s filmography right now. Oh! He directed a bunch of straight-to-DVD horror films before making House of the Devil. I get it now! House of the Devil isn’t the jumping off point for a great career of potential awesomeness for West, it’s the *one* good exception in a career of bland horror movies. It all makes sense now. Ti West will probably never make another film as good as House of the Devil ever again, because he’ll probably be stuck making shitty, low-grade, small-studio horror movies for the rest of his career. I’ll stop thinking of his other movies (like this) as let downs, and start just thinking of House of the Devil as his only bright spot.
As far as The Innkeepers goes, it’s not an offensively bad film, like Sucker Punch or Green Lantern or something. It’s more just a stupidly bad movie. It’s dumb. It’s a waste of time. Don’t waste your time and your money on it, it’s not worth it. It may have a decent Rotten Tomatoes score, but it also only has a 46% audience rating. It falls short on horror, delivers WAY too much bad comedy, and the acting is so lame it’s actually distracting. I always feel bad for shoving a little film like this into he dirt, because I’m sure it was made with passion and everyone involved was enthusiastic about what they were doing… but, I mean… shit is shit, right…?
3 out of 10