Noel Caroll, in his article Why Horror?, discusses the universal and general theory of our attraction to horror. The universal theory of our attraction to horror plays on our fascination for horror, making it the basic calling of this form while the general theory is about horror narratives of the disclosure sort. The general theory is focused on the discovery of the monster and the curiosity and fascination that we feel is dependent on how the whole structure and staging of curiosity in the narrative is developed.
I agree with this theory because looking back on myself, I realize that I find myself getting reeled in to watch horror movies because of my curiosity of the monster especially when I watch trailers. Watching the trailer of the Innkeepers, I felt nervous to watch it in class because I might get scared too much because the trailer showed lots of jump scares. But even though I was scared to watch it, I looked forward to view it in class.
The Innkeepers is an example of movies that can prove these theories because it is a movie about two employees who work in an inn that is about to close. The movie depicts the processes of discovery, confirmation, disclosure, revelation, explanation, hypothesis, ratiocination, and etc.
The movie was set in the Yankee Pedlar Inn, an old inn which used to be a successful hotel, but over the years, customers declined and now they are about to close. Two employees, Luke and Claire, work their last night in the inn. They are both fascinated with the ghost stories of the inn and Luke has even made a website dedicated to the sightings in the inn. Claire, being fascinated with paranormal activities, joins in Luke’s quest of finding ghosts but she seems much more enthusiastic than him. They are aiming to make contact with the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, the ghost rumoured to be roaming the inn. She was a bride who was left by her lover and had killed herself in the third floor of the inn.
The movie or their quest to finding the monster is paced by chapters. First chapter includes the introduction to their fascination of the monster. This is shown in the movie through their ghosts hunts when their night shift starts. I feel that they do this mostly because they are bored since there are not much customers coming, they have plenty of time on their hands. They transfer to different places in the inn to listen out for Madeline O’Malley. To make it even more legit, they have equipment that the experts use in other movies when trying to find paranormal beings. During these parts, I felt that it was absolutely draggy, although there is the suspense factor, finding out that nothing would actually happen was disappointing. This happened throughout the movie although there were occasional jump scares, it was minimal.
There was also introduction of minor characters which I suspected to be potential victims of the monster like the single mother with the child, the actress, and the old man. I suspected one of the ladies to be possessed by Madeline O’Malley and start killing each of them.
The second chapter shows the minimal encounters with the supernatural. There was a scene where Claire was sleeping and she wakes up to Madeline O’Malley beside her which was terrifying. Another encounter is when she was in the dining hall and was listening intently in case Madeline O’Malley tries to make contact with her which leads her to the lobby and the banging of piano keys.
The third chapter shows us the unexpected visitor, an old man who insisted that he should stay in the third floor. At this point, I already had hunches that this was the lover of Madeline O’Malley. This chapter shows the usual stubbornness of characters in a horror film. The actress already told Claire not to go to the basement because she feels a strong presence there but she still insisted in going down out of the curiosity of Madeline O’Malley. After the very draggy intro and plot, we finally start to see something happening in the movie when she goes up to the third floor and sees the old man dead in the tub. Following this, she goes down the basement and is being chased down by Madeline O’Malley.
Overall, I didn’t enjoy the movie because there wasn’t much sighting of the monster and the ending was very abrupt and made no sense to me. Watching the trailer, I expected too much. I thought there would be lots of jump scares but instead there was a long story that didn’t unravel much of the story of the monster and there was not enough revelation of the monster. I expected that they would be able to free the spirit of Madeline O’Malley but instead she remained a bad and vengeful spirit. Also, it left me wondering if Claire did die in the movie or why she had to die. It was only after the movie that my friend explained to me that Claire was seen near the curtains in the prolonged view of a room in the hotel before the banging of the door.
Andrew Tudor. “Why horror?” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)