“Why sir?” was the question the hovered my mind as I watched the film. I think this film was the most boring film I have watched this semester. It reminded me of “Are you afraid of the dark.” It was “baby-ish” and dry. I was disappointed because I actually got excited about the opening credits. I thought the slideshow photos of the history of the Yankee Pedlar Inn until the present time was a good start. It showed how old the building was and how much it had been through over the years. The background music that accompanied it also fit well so I had high hopes for the film.
When I saw that the scenes were divided into chapters with its matching title, it reminded me of the old cartoons and shows that I used to watch as a kid. I think the division of the scenes using the chapters made it less intimidating and scary. It was more like a narrative — horror as a narrative. I was excited because I loved the concept of haunted houses, hotels and the like. However, it took a long time for me to actually get creeped out. The scenes were dragging and I found myself falling asleep at one point.
Claire and Luke’s characters were quite funny I have to admit but Claire irritated me most of the time. As I studied her character I knew she wanted to prove that there were ghosts in the hotel in order to attract more customers, but at the same time I felt like she was also doing this for herself. I am not sure how long she had been working there but I know for a fact that she gets bored every so often. There is nothing to look forward to each day, there were not many customers that wanted to check-in too, and the fact that it was going to close down added to the uselessness of their job. I felt like she needed to prove that there were paranormal things in the place in order to make herself feel good and to prove that her time and effort were not wasted in the hotel. Even though I did not like Claire that much I found her tandem with Luke and both their fascination with the monster quite adorable. Their ghost hunting tactics were fun to watch — the website, their EVP (electronic voice phenomena) nights, and basically them just trying to catch anything paranormal in camera.
Noel Carroll explains in his work “Why Horror?” that there is a paradox in the horror genre. Usually viewers are repulsed by the idea of something unnatural, yet they cannot take their eyes off of it. In the case of Claire, she became obsessed with communicating with Madeline O’Malley’s ghost. Some people would think of this as a crazy idea and would back out in an instant, but others like Claire cannot seem to take no for an answer. They are fascinated with what others would usually consider disgusting or horrifying. He explains this in his theory that the main purpose of the viewer’s gratification is not necessarily the monster but the whole narrative in itself in which the presentation of the monster is staged. “The monster is a functional ingredient in the type of narratives found in horror stories, and not all narratives function exactly like horror narratives.” From my understanding, it is the thrill of the unknown that gets the audience. Carroll further explains that “These are appropriate objects of discovery and revelation, just because they are unknown—not only in the sense that the murderer in a detective fiction is unknown, but also because they are outside the bounds of knowledge, i.e., outside our standing conceptual schemes.”
There were only a number of scenes that actually got me scared. One, was when Claire suddenly woke up and the camera suddenly showed the ghost bride’s figure beside her. Second, was when Claire was running around the hotel and suddenly bumped into Luke. Lastly, when she was trapped in the basement with the ghost of the bride behind her.
Overall this film is something that I will never watch again. I did not like how the story ended with Claire’s death — not knowing whether she died from her asthma attack, her head injury or the ghost bride. I did not like how she became part of the ghost world after all her efforts to try to communicate with it. I did not also like how Luke just left her (who does that???) because I was lowkey shipping them.
Source: Noel Carroll, “Why Horror?.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).