SXSW Review: The Innkeepers
The Innkeepers is a good campfire style horror movie. The scares are light and fun, not deep horrific terror. I like this tone a lot better than writer/director/editor Ti West’s previous House of the Devil.
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are desk clerks at the Yankee Padler Inn, which is about to close due to lack of business. There is a legend of the haunting spirit of Madeline O’Malley, whom Claire and Luke try to contact during their down time, which is most of the time. Former TV star Leanne Reese-Jones (Kelly McGillis) is staying with them for a convention she’s doing, a mother and son, and that’s it.
It’s flat out comedy in the beginning. There are fun, silly jump scares, quirky, mundane local conversations, and high slapstick. Claire’s attempts at taking out the garbage are Chaplin-esque, and her fangirling over Leanne is adorable. It’s all well meaning and positive. No one’s making fun of any townees or supernatural beliefs.
Of course the supernatural gets more and more pervasive. West really makes sitting in a room recording room tone fascinating. Claire tries to get EVP recordings, and just the way West plays with the depth of field, in conversations too (Luke foreground, Claire background). The occasional visions of Madeline may be scary, but West gets a lot more mileage out of the unseen. Then Claire freaks out and it’s adorable and funny again.
This is another recent film dealing with the metaphysical connections between all living things and the world beyond our own. There’s Source Code, Insidious and the documentary I Am. FYI: These films are right. We’re all connected.
I always prefer a funny horror film. The very idea that we get scared by something not real is humorous. Of course a good intense thrill ride is fine, but to me humor creates more of a total package. I also find it more reminiscent of the ‘80s classics. You got a problem with Gremlins, Poltergeist and Evil Dead II? Didn’t think so.