THE HUGHES VERDICT!
There is a new name in horror. A name that will soon belong up there with the greats of Wes Craven, John Carpenter and many others. A name that once you see attached to a horror film you know that you will be desperate to see it, even though you have no idea what it is about. The name in question is Ti West, a man who is becoming an almighty force in the horror genre.
What I am about to say is no secret to long time readers, but in 2010 there was only one horror that stood tall and proud among the others. House Of The Devil was a complete and utter surprise, a slow burning horror with a 70’s throwback vibe that horror fans took to their heart. Since then horror fans have been on tenterhooks to see what West could deliver next, could he better that wonderful film or was it a case of a one hit wonder?. Well the arrival of The Innkeepers answers that question and after the credits roll at the end of the film you would not believe what West has done.
Firstly lets tease you by not giving you the required answer and telling you a little bit about the film. From a spooky house in the middle of nowhere, to a now large hotel, West moves the tension and horror from babysitting to that of a haunted empty place called The Yankee Pedlar Inn, a soon to be closed bed and breakfast which has hardly no custom and with just two staff on duty, Claire ( Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), the place is just a depressive place. Claire and Luke are a good duo, both really pleasant and good humoured but bored with the last days of their job. Healy has interest in the paranormal, especially with the case of Madeline O’Malley, a bride who hanged herself many moons ago in the hotel itself. While Healy declares he has seen the spirit many times, its Claire who takes a sudden interest in the case and starts to stalk the place at night in hope to catch at least glimpse of this renowned ghost. Its her dedication and stupidity that sets off a trail of suspense and terror which makes the last three days of opening a frightening experience.
The Innkeepers hails all the hallmarks of a typical West film. If anyone goes into this hoping for an Insidious Mark II then they will probably leave after the first hour. West does not care about cheap thrills and pleasing the friday night date crowd. His main concern is character development and a story you can believe in and so the majority of the film is all about the set up. There are moments to keep the horror fans happy, there is a brilliant set-piece right at the beginning that had me jumping out of my seat, but these are few and far between because West just loves the old horror trick of building the suspense.
The fact you believe in these characters is a major positive and West can really write a good script. He is also proving to be a fine director and he brings all he can from the camera with long lingering shots of the hotel corridors that brings back memories of The Shining. Its this trick that makes him stand out from the horror crowd because nothing really happens in the film. What we have is long talkative scenes and sweeping shots but somehow like House Of The Devil which is so similar in structure, its when things do occur that brings the scare factor to the film. A piano playing on its own may not sound scary simply because its a scene which has played out in countless other haunted horror films, but it works here because the tension of the build up is incredible to watch.
West actually came up with this idea while staying in the hotel (the location on show is real) while filming House Of The Devil. Its been said that some flickering of lights while there convinced him to write up this story and what he came up with is a joyful caper that contains laughs and thrills in whole one package. With a thin cast that contains the main duo and three guests, a mother who has just left her husband with her son in tow, Top Gun Sex Bomb Kelly McGillis as a former soap actress and now a fully fledged psychic, and an elderly man played by George Riddle, we get to know everything there is to know about the characters and so by the time the final quarter hits, we are fully invested in these characters.
The final half does pile on the full horror of what Claire set out to find and I was kind of freaked by the imagery on show and while there are suggestions that what we are seeing is in the mind of just one woman, it does not stop you grabbing the arm chair and screaming for the person to run and escape.
So back to the question! Is this better than House Of The Devil?. Well The Innkeepers surprised me by being “this good”. Its a stunning film and already tipped to be my favourite horror of 2012. If you loved the Devil film then this will be right up your street. Its not better, its not worse, its a film on equal footing and showcases the full potential of a director who is fast becoming the new king of the genre.
Now roll on his next film…….
Check Out Matt Wavish’s full Cinema review here, who gave the film a massive thumbs up and a huge Nine out of Ten rating…..