“The Innkeepers” was an entertaining film. I did not necessarily find it scary. Though there were times where I brace myself, I habit I have formed from watching horror movies as a child (I was quite the coward) only to proven that I did not need to. It was weird, it felt more like a comedy than horror to me, something along the lines of “The Office” where it is kind of dead pan humor, dead, get it? Yet based on Carroll’s “Why Horror?” it technically still is horror. Following John Clute’s Four movements, this movie in that respect is horror. We can also see various Horror tropes in the film which further reinforces its identity as a Horror film.
The first movement, John Clute mentions is the sighting. In “Innkeepers” it takes a while for the actual monster to shown. Once she is shown, “shit hits the fan” real fast. The sighting wasn’t too incredible and was quite grounded to reality. It very much reminded me of those ghosts caught on tape videos, or the shows on Discovery channel of people looking for ghosts. I guess the sighting didn’t frighten me much because of how it played out and seemed so much like a movie. I wasn’t as immersed. But thinking about it, the situations that happened during the sighting are what you get in the real world, or at least what I hear, or read from stories of other people.
After the sighting of the monster, the main character, Claire, goes out and searches for more clues on the monster. The monster here being Madeline O’Mally, shows herself to Claire, and oddly only to Claire. As she searches for clues, Madeline shows herself and interacts with Claire more and more. It’s as if the more Claire acknowledges the existence of Madeline, the stronger she gets. This is further is strengthened when Leane Reese Jones confirms that there is something supernatural going on. This is the second movement which is the thickening of the world.
The world continues to thicken in front of Claire’s eyes, and the more she is encouraged to dive deeper, seeking answers, wanting to help Madeline. She is warned by Leane about the dangers this poses but she fails to follow and only gets deeper into the world in which has opened in front of her. At this point, the story becomes familiar to us. The story becomes much like a ghost story. Stories we here when we were kids about characters who, disobediently venture deeper into the woods where they will face the consequences of their actions. Claire, is the same.
All this build up and eventually it ends with the revel. Claire, stupid enough, returns inside the house and steps into the basement where the strongest encounter with Madeline happened. She failed to listen to Leane again, but this time she won’t be able to do anything about it. The moment she returns to the world that she barely escaped seals her fate. Claire only falls and runs deeper into the basement. Eventually trapping herself in the one area Madeline resides and is at her strongest.
The aftermath shows us the reality of ghosts in the world of “The Innkeepers” like how ghost stories try to spook us by telling us that the ghosts in there are real as well. Despite, being not that scary, the Innkeepers managed to follow several Horror tropes identified with ghost stories. There was a ghost. The ghost had a rich backstory. This backstory was researched by one unknowing character. This same character delves deeper until she has to pay for meddling in the business of the dead. And the story ends with the proof that there are ghosts. There are also dead bodies, the non-believer, the psychic who warns the main character but fails to stop the imminent demise, and the concluding ending with the police.
The final scene further supported the ghost story by showing the ghost of Claire. Much like how ghost stories have that “and she was never heard of again” followed by a jump scare that is supposed to mimic the main character become one with the ghosts.
Like the title of the setting of this horror movie, “The Yanky Peddler”, this movie was also a peddler. A peddler of ghost stories. I can picture a shady old man sitting on a bench in the park, or at the street calling the attention of kids or passerby’s just to sell them his ghost story. Only wanting to give them a spook if he could.