Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Innkeepers

I haven't seen a lot of horror films in my time, but I've grown familiar with the hallmarks of the genre like any general fan of cinema has. So let's just say after viewing "The Innkeepers" I found myself scratching my head over Ti West's ascendence in the indie world. I haven't had the chance to catch "The House of the Devil," to be sure, but West's new film is astonishingly bad and almost completely devoid of pleasure. I felt deprived a humor and horror fix. I may sue.

West starts with a very stale premise and does essentially nothing to enliven it. He then provides us with a grating, quasi-Manic Pixie Dream Girl, hotel staffer heroine named Claire, high-strung and annoying as played by Sara Paxton. Revolving around her are a series of badly scripted parts, only one of which works even slightly: Luke (Pat Healy), Claire's tart fellow inn employee, who gets all of the film's halfway decent lines. It sucks that even Luke's character has to devolve into cliche at a certain point. But that's just the nature of the film. West is said to draw heavily from modern horror classics in a sort of nostalgic way. I'd say it's gotten to the point where his own voice is smothered by devotion to conventions. And these conventions aren't even good ones.

So a inn is being closed after a last weekend, and Claire and Luke are taking a few more guests (including a famous actress-cum-psychic, played by Kelly McGillis) while also investigating the hotel for paranormal activity. Sounds like this could be kinda fun, eh? I certainly thought so. But the film is only occasionally mildly funny, and only occasionally mildly creepy. None of the plot hijinks work, and thus I was left drumming my fingers, waiting for what I assumed to be a backloaded scare barrage to bear its teeth. If you think the last 15-30 minutes of "The Innkeepers" are even remotely terrifying, I'd say horror is not the genre for you. Every scare (except for a final, very cheesy one) is tipped off either by the poor positioning of the camera or a character's prolonged reaction. Anyone looking for hardcore frights should steer entirely clear. "The Innkeepers" is to its genre what "The Trip" was to its own: it makes you wonder what "scary" or "funny" really means anymore. D

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