Three meetings deep into the semester and having watched the movies that we have already seen, I was expecting out third movie “The Innkeepers” to follow the trend of tense moments where I would have to hide behind my bag or cover my face with my hands or hoodie, but this was not the case when we viewed this film.
The film halfheartedly set the tone for a horror movie and reminded me more of “Scary Movie” rather than “The Conjuring,” down to the main actress who reminded me somewhat of Anna Farris from the “Scary Movie” franchise of movies.
Horror movies have this special nature wherein sometimes you can predict what is about to happen and even if you know what is going to happen you still have the tendency to jump. For example, this could be when the tense music starts to play in the background and the protagonists makes their way into a dark room to the body of their dead friend dismembered in some odd fashion only to see the killer behind them. However, in this film, these “predictable” moments that are supposed to scare you even when you can see them coming; were too predictable that when they happen you can’t help but utter an “eh okay” and then move on. That normal rush of adrenaline was taken away and I found myself going from the usual heart racing out of my chest to snoring “Z’s” in class.
However, I guess there was one point in the movie where I actually felt some sort of suspense but yet failed to bring me over the edge and actually scare me, specifically when the two main characters were in the basement and the camera zooms in one Claire and says she sees the spirit but we cannot see anything. What really makes this scene terrifying for me personally is all of the emotion that was put into that it actually convinced me that there was something there even though I did not see anything.
To incorporate our reading “Why Horror?” by Noel Carrol, this films represents what Carrol considers as a Narrative Story, a movie that tells a story and this is evident through the use of “chapters” and an “epilogue” throughout the film to make you experience the unravelling of the film. It takes us through the story of Claire and her job at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, through her interactions with the various guests, the stories of the death of Madeline O’Malley, Luke’s story, the suicide of the old man, and even hinting at the story of the single mother and her child who are fed up with Claire the inn. All of these stories coincide with one another to form the ghost story that is “The Innkeeper.” This narrative takes us through the lives of everyone that is involved and does not focus on the fluff that we are used to when we watch a horror film. The use of narrative paints a picture of the ghost that resides in the inn even though we barely even see the ghost of Madeline O’Malley until the very end.
Personally, I thought the movie was just too slow overall. The pacing of the story took too long to develop and I found myself wondering when exactly the “scary” parts were going to happen. I also found the movie to be somewhat predicable and I could expect certain things to happen such as at the beginning of the movie where Claire is looking at the laptop. The entire time, I was not thinking there was a ghost that was going to appear on the video but I thought it was going to be a jump scare and that was exactly what it was. Given all of this, I still found to the movie to be somewhat smart in a sense that it dulls you to expect and predict everything that will happen and although you might be able to predict what is going to happen, there is still a sense of anticipation behind it. One other way that this film is smart, at least in my opinion, is that even though you don’t see the typical tropes that come with horror movies aside from the eerie music and the haunted background established in the movie, it still gives you a scare with the ghost barely even showing up. I can’t think of any other ghost story or horror film that I’ve watched where I was still feeling a bit nervous even though there wasn’t any real paranormal action to kudos to director Ti West for that.
Noel Carroll. “Why Horror?” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)