My friends always ask me, “Jayme, why do you like watching horror movies so much?” My reply to this question is always, “Why not? It’s exciting!” Horror films give you that kind of terrifying thrill that other movie genres fail to provide. They make the viewer feel a very unique type of emotion usually exclusive to the genre. Perhaps it can be attributed to personal preference, as another kind of movie genre that interests me is the drama, which also tickles and tantalizes the emotions. Coming into class, I was excited to watch The Innkeepers (2011), as on the heels of two straight solid films, my expectations for the rest of the films was sky-high. The previous two films were exactly the type of films in the genre that get me excited whenever I watch a horror movie. Oh, how let down I was during, and especially after the movie.
I have to admit, I have never been so bored watching a horror movie. When you watch a horror movie, you expect to get scared. Whether it be the cheap jump scares from a loud thump of closing door or a random “monster” appearing into the screen after dead silence, or the thrill of anticipation of something out-of-the ordinary to happen, you always expect some kind of moment that sends you into fear. I did not get anything out of this movie. From a casual horror fan like I am, I expected, and expected, and expected, and was ultimately even let down once the climax happened. I would have been okay if the big revelation of the monster scared the pants off of me, but it just did not. I have never been so underwhelmed my entire life from a movie that deems itself as a horror film. It is beyond me how this film has a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, as if I were given a chance to rate this film, I would probably give it a 2/10. I would like to thank people for not going to the Yankee Pedlar Inn, the haunted hotel which the movie was set in, as I do not want to see and witness another day there.
As mentioned previously, I watch horror films in order to feel the sensation of fear. It is a feeling that repulses the ordinary human being – heck, it repulses me too but then I still enjoy it. Noel Carrol’s article entitled, Why Horror? explains this, stating that, “…to a large extent, the horror story is driven by curiosity.” Viewers like me need to see the very thing that repulses us. Seeing the “monster” is what drives us to the feeling of fear and anxiety, and eventually, satisfaction. This is very much confirmed by Noel, as he states, “Applied to the paradox of horror, these observations suggest that the pleasure derived from the horror fiction and the source of interest in it resides, first and foremost, in the processes of discovery, proof, and confirmation that horror fictions often employ.” A validation of the monster’s existence after a time of it being hidden from us adds to the effect of terror, as viewers are drawn in and sucked into anticipation for the big reveal. It is this anticipation that is present in most of the horror films that I see; sadly, Innkeepers is not one of them, though.
One thing that added to my lack of interest for the movie was its excruciatingly slow pace. The movie premise revolves around it’s normal, down-to-earth protagonists Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) staying up during the hotel’s last couple of nights in business hunting for ghosts. Probably three-fourths of the film was spent slowly watching the two going around areas of the hotel they felt contained ghosts. I cannot stress just how snail-paced this film was, as even the dialogue that the characters had with its various guests were, for me, uninteresting and irrelevant. Throughout the film, I was just like, “Wow, this is really boring… the movie’s climax better be really good to compensate.” I was waiting for the moment that would’ve validated it’s rating in movie rating websites, but it just never came for me. Once the monster was ultimately revealed in the end, I was completely underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it’s because the movie was so old, leading to poor effects and the opposite-of-terrifying white lady-like entity, that I wasn’t scared, but I was really expecting more than that. The monster did not scare me at all, mostly because it looked so fake and unrealistic.
What probably was the silver-lining of the film was how relatable the characters in the film were. I felt like I shared the type of feeling they were experiencing looking for the monster. Just like how Claire would look around the hotel in the hopes of seeing any sign of the film’s monster, those that generally watch horror films wait until they see one. I felt a connection with Claire and Luke, as their reactions to seeing signs of the monster are just like mine. It is this “yes-yes-no-no-no-yes!” feeling that really grabs your attention whenever you watch the horror film. It’s just that this time around, the climax, in my opinion, was not worth the amount of time spent in anticipation for it.
All-in-all, I cannot believe this was selected as an option in the class’ movie roster. It was a very unorthodox pick: students who are not immersed in the technicalities of a horror film (like me) would probably question it (again, like me). Who knows, maybe I’m actually wrong and just fail to see why it’s great. But then again, that monster did look awful.
Noël Carroll, ‘Why Horror?’, from The Philosophy of Horror Or Paradoxes of the Heart (New York, Routledge Inc., 1990), pp. 158–95. Reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis Ltd/Routledge, Inc., http://www.routledge-ny.com.