West’s The Innkeepers was so difficult to watch and sadly, for all the wrong reasons.
I was a bit lost on what the film wanted to reveal to the viewers since I don’t think it was successful enough to pique the interest of most. My friends in the class thought that it did not engage them as a viewer and I have to agree. I was a bit thrown off by the overall style of the film, especially the sequencing of the movie by chapters. In class, it was discussed that the purpose of the division into chapters could be giving emphasis on the importance of a horror story, since Sara Paxton in the film had banked on the story of Madeline O’Malley to get her through a very boring job as an all-around staff of a small hotel / inn. I was hoping that the story of Madeline would be developed but I was left unsatisfied. The film instead, delved more into the character of Claire who had become very annoying towards the end with her nosy and self-serving character. I find that the film tried its best to bring depth to Claire’s character but it was unsuccessful since the audience members did not particularly feel for the character at all. Luke was a bit more entertaining compared to Claire but he was also not too relatable and some viewers were frustrated with how he led us all on the story of Madeline.
What would have been interesting enough for the audience to remain engaged by the film I think was if for some reason, the old man that checked in had been related to Madeline O’Malley and if the spirit of Madeline had a chance in being given a life to. I found it as a opportunity because the psychic (Leanne) did not really give much value to the film and just served as an adviser to the every selfish and stubborn Claire. One thing that was consistent however, was Claire curiosity. Noel Carroll had explained in “Why Horror” how curiosity is why people keep watching horror films despite being fearful, scared, bored, and whatever else negative feelings they get from watching Horror. In the very end, even when one does not want to see gore, or be subjected to jump-scares, we still end up asking ourselves, or the rest of the audience on what happens next. That is exactly how Claire is as a person. She was convinced that she would be able to find the spirit of Madeline O”Malley that she was willing to put off sleep or even dismiss her real job just to try to record and capture the spirit in motion. She was curious, as show in the photo above. She was persistent even when she was already experiencing the horrors she had been anticipating all this time. When Luke was terrified about what Claire was looking at at the basement, he ran away. He realized that his made up stories had come to life and jumped at the first sign of the supernatural. He feared what he could not even see, simply because it is more terrifying to not know where it is located and what it looks like. Our imaginations sometimes play tricks on us, and it definitely made a fool out of Luke. Madeline O’Malley’s spirit and story, which he intentionally made up and wrote about in his website, had come to life and he feared of knowing anything more about it.
The film does have the regular factors of a horror film. A seemingly decent home with a terrifying backstory. A curious girl who falls victim to the spirit’s wrath. An older character who warns of the evils of the spirits if they were disturbed. All of these are familiar but somehow I still feel like I just watched a documentary on Claire’s life, which is not at all interesting. I feel like the film could have focused less on the character of Claire since she was quite hard to relate to. The movie failed to capture our interests even if there were monsters shown in the film. On the last scene we see that Claire’s curiosity is what actually kills her. However, we also see that Claire becomes one of the ghosts she looked forward to seeing each day in her job. Was that her resolve? Is that the goal of the film? Until now I still feel like I wasted some hours of my life watching a white girl complain about her life. I wish I could see the film in a different light but I just can’t. Hopefully, the rest of the films in the course will be better.
Noel Carroll, “Why Horror?.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).