The Innkeepers (2011)

The Innkeepers is a story about two co-workers, Claire (played by Sara Paxton) and Luke (played by Pat Healy) who are employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a hotel that is about to close. Luke is fond of the supernatural and runs a website about ghost sightings in their hotel. Claire and Luke both love ghost hunting and suddenly engage in conversation about a certain Madeline O’Malley, a bride who committed suicide by hanging herself when her fiancé ditched her at the altar. Madeline O’Malley’s body was said to have been hidden in the downstairs basement of the hotel. The Innkeepers is a story about two co-workers, Claire (played by Sara Paxton) and Luke (played by Pat Healy) who are employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a hotel that is about to close. Luke is fond of the supernatural and runs a website about ghost sightings in their hotel. Claire and Luke both love ghost hunting and suddenly engage in conversation about a certain Madeline O’Malley, a bride who committed suicide by hanging herself when her fiancé ditched her at the altar. Madeline O’Malley’s body was said to have been hidden in the downstairs basement of the hotel.

About two-thirds of the film is just about Claire and Luke working at the hotel, sometimes pulling pranks on each other and mostly chatting about ghosts and the supernatural. The story takes a turn when the audience is introduced to Leanne Rease-Jones, a former actress who came into town for a convention and decided to stay at their hotel. The woman is pretty mysterious, especially in the scene when Claire took out the trash and saw the woman looking at her oddly from the upstairs window. Claire waved at her but Leanne Rease-Jones didn’t acknowledge her.
The film was dragging. It was only at the last chapter (1/3) of the film that weird things started to happen, and things started to escalate. Because of how crazy the last chapter was, it seemed as if the first two chapters were a different movie in itself. This is because nothing particularly exciting happens for a long time and when it was time for the last chapter, my level of anticipation had already plummeted. In Chapter 1, we are introduced to Claire and Luke’s friendship where Luke is revealed to have feelings for Claire and Claire doesn’t reciprocate. In Chapter 2, things start to get weird but not enough to scare us. In Chapter 3, we see how the director Ti West turns things around.  I personally think that the last chapter tried to make up for the dreary and slow-paced two-thirds of The Innkeepers. This chapter shows how violent the ghosts can be and we remember that what we are watching is a horror movie indeed. We are introduced to an old man and instantly, my reaction in seeing him was “well, we won’t see you for long, will we?” A few minutes later, he is shown dead on a bathtub, soaking on his own blood. We also see Madeline O’Malley’s apparition, who is still wearing her wedding dress from years back.
I wasn’t really emotionally invested on the characters but when Claire died, there was still a part of me that was disappointed because I wanted her to survive. Among the other characters, she was the only one trying to find and speak with Madeline O’Malley because Luke was a coward and Leanne Rease-Jones was indifferent and didn’t want anything to do with what was happening. Claire was the only one brave enough to look for the ghost despite her being portrayed as weak due to her having asthma. I was disappointed because I wanted her to overcome that weakness, that in the end, her courage will help her survive. But what held her back all her life, her asthma, was what also caused her death at the end, when she suffered an asthma attack after encountering the apparition of the old man.
In Noel Carroll’s “Why Horror?”, we see the paradox of horror wherein horror attracts audiences but it does so by means of the “expressly repulsive”. Therefore Carroll asks, “why are horror audiences attracted by what, typically (in everyday life), should (and would) repel them?” This is what is paradoxical about the horror genre. Furthermore, Carroll answers this by saying that “the horror story is driven explicitly by curiosity…doubt, skepticism, and the fear that belief in the existence of the monster is a form of insanity are predictable foils to the revelation of the existence of the monster”.  What leads people to seek out horror is fascination. I myself can attest to this because I catch myself wondering what makes me so fascinated with watching things that I know are terrifying and I watch them anyway. This is because of fascination and curiosity.
In the film, this curiosity is exemplified by Claire’s character. There is an inherent curiosity about the existence of the “monster”, of the ghost of Madeline O’Malley. Because she was so transfixed and fascinated with the tale of Madeline O’Malley, she became so fascinated with the prospect of finding her in the hotel. However, this curiosity and fascination ultimately leads to her demise.
Overall, I think that The Innkeepers had some good parts like the relationship between Claire and Luke and the piano scene surprised me as well. But for the most part, I found it to be boring and dragging.

Source: Noel Carroll, “Why Horror?.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).

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