Jessie’s Saturday Night Fright Flick: Ti West’s THE INNKEEPERS



Movie junkie Jessie Robbins picks a fright flick for a Saturday night.


I am a fan of classic ghost stories, where suspense reigns supreme, and quality triumphs over quantity of jump scares.  Not that I don’t love a good, well-educated jump scare, because I totally do, I’m just saying that the best horror films for me are subtle, maybe a little sad, with great atmosphere and thorough, thought provoking characterization.  Someone who came onto the scene rocking all of these things (in my semi-educated opinion) is Ti West. While I may not be the biggest fan of some of his later work, two films that reignited my faith in the industry are West’s THE INNKEEPERS (2011) and HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009).

But especially THE INNKEEPERS.

THE INNKEEPERS stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as innkeepers, oddly enough, doing an overnight shift at the supposedly haunted Yankee Pedlar Inn on its last weekend in business.  They decide that this is the weekend that they will finally capture proof of the haunting.  As these things go, horrifying things ensue, but not before we get an amazing lesson in tension, atmosphere and characterization with Professor West.

To be able to pull off humor and eye-gouging terror in the same film is a feat not yet achieved by many directors, and I think that is what made me fall so in love with Ti West so soon.  Horror/comedies always tend to illicit more laughs than screams, the two don’t seem to exist together without leaning more towards comedy.  What is so great with THE INNKEEPERS is that while the film is at times hilarious, it doesn’t take away from the terror.  The situations are so genuine and the characters are so fleshed out that any humor is expected, especially between two characters such as Claire and Luke, the camaraderie between coworkers, an underlying crush.  Hilarious at times but natural.

Sara Paxton is beyond incredible in this film.  She reacts to being scared like anybody would, frustrated, almost mad at herself for getting so freaked out over something so small (or terrifyingly huge).  I think I spent most of the film laughing at Sara until shit started to get really real.  On the DVD commentary (“NERD”, they screamed collectively from behind their steel computer screens) West states that at least one of her initial “fake-out” scares were genuine, she didn’t know when certain things were about to happen, I can relate to the not having a convincing scream thing. I too go Pee Wee Herman a lot in everyday life.

The music, scored by Jeff Grace, is everything I love about Gothic style horror films, trilling flute, atmospheric gold.  It’s on par with THE OTHERS (2001).  Which I’ve already talked about, if you’d been paying attention you’d know that.

Pat Healy as Luke is the most adorkable thing in the world. His obvious love for Claire thrusts him into a quest to find evidence of paranormal activity at the Yankee Pedlar in an attempt to get closer to her.  He is a sarcastic and passive aggressive pessimist and he makes my heart melt.

Well it’s Saturday, so I should be off to my super cool weekly Saturday binge-watch of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and bed before midnight. My suggestion is to rent a hotel room for the night, by yourself, in the dodgy end of town, turn off all the lights and explore the halls with a flashlight.  THEN watch THE INNKEEPERS, and tell me all about your experiences below.

Stay scared kiddies.