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May 3, 2012

Movie Review: The Innkeepers (Blu-ray, 2011)

Next to vampire films, the one sub-genre of horror that entertains me the least are films centering on ghosts or paranormal entities. It's not that they're bad. I've seen some enjoyable films throughout the years like The Changeling, The Shining and Poltergeist; it's just they rarely scare or hold my interest. Two years ago, Ti West surprised a lot of people with the superb House of the Devil, now his most recent project, The Innkeepers, makes its way to both Blu-ray and DVD.  Did The Innkeepers put me to sleep, or was it one of those rare supernatural features that passed the test? Let's have a look!

Claire (Sara Paxton, Shark Night, and The Last House on the Left) and Luke (Pat Healy, Ghost World) are a couple of slackers working at the soon-to-be closed Yankee Pedlar Inn. Before the inn closes these ghost enthusiasts want to perform their own ghost hunting on some supposedly haunted sections of the inn.

One of the ghosts said to inhabit the inn is that of a woman named Madeline O'Malley. Forming some kind of contact with her or any other entity becomes the goal of our female half of the duo, Claire. Claire's persistence becomes the driving point in the story, while Luke's case, his skittishness may seem more appropriate to the circumstances.

80's babe, Kelly McGillis (Top Gun), adds a solid performance as the matronly, ex-actress/ ghost-communicator, Leanne Rease-Jones. The Innkeepers is essentially a three character piece and shows off plenty player's unique personas. The feeling I got from The Innkeepers is the exact opposite that I felt watching another recent genre film called The Wicker Tree. Those characters sucked, and I could not wait to see them meet some sort of demise. Claire and Luke, in all their geekiness really had charm. It also helps that Sara Paxton is adorable.

Dark Sky hasn't skimped on the extras. We're treated to commentaries with Writer/Director/Editor Ti West, Producers Peter Phok & Larry Fessenden and 2nd Unit Director/Sound Designer Graham Reznick and another with Ti West and Stars Sara Paxton & Pat Healy. The Innkeepers - Behind The Scenes features some interviews, a wider look at the hotel and even the cast and crew member's dogs. We also get the original theatrical trailer.

The Innkeepers strength is in its simplicity. The narratives approach feels more like a story an older relative would tell you as a child. Incidentally, there is a scene with just that in the movie. There’s really nothing too complex here and thankfully no stupid twists that similar films tend to use. Ti West is continuing to mature as an artist and The Innkeepers stands as proof of that. Recommended.

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