The Innkeepers is written and directed by Ti West. The 2011 supernatural film focused on the story of two uninteresting individuals that worked in the soon-to-close Yankee Pedlar Inn. Claire Paxton and Luke Healy are intrigued by the ghost of Madeline O’Malley. Rumors say that O’Malley killed herself at the inn after being jilted by her fiancé. The unlikely duo sets off on an adventure at the inn meeting new people in the process.
This movie is like this one episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, called The Ghost of Suite 613. Both had ghosts and curious people. The atmosphere is also like The Ghostbusters wherein the ghosts are undeniably scary but also provides a comedic tone due to conspicuous computer graphics. With the similies, The Innkeepers do not necessarily tickle the audience’s creep meter. However, it is entertaining. I was hooked by the movie not because of the monster, but by the two main characters. All throughout the movie, I was asking myself of what will they do next. According to Carroll, “A general theory of horror will say something about the probable roots of attraction and pleasure throughout the genus of horror, but this does not deny that various of the species and specimens of the genre will have further sources of attraction and pleasure that will require, correspondingly, added explanations.” The Innkeepers made sure that the audience is involved in the adventure. We were there with Claire when she was watching the jump scare in the lobby. We were also led to believe that there really is a ghost in the hotel prior to the unraveling because we were made to see Luke’s surveillance footage. It was up to the audience to add explanations. The movie played on the ability of the audience for skepticism.
Since the movie made the audience feel like we are part of the ghost hunting, we were able to get hooked because of the probable narrative that is immersing from the movie. Hence, “the locus of our gratification is not the monster as such but the whole narrative structure in which the presentation of the monster is staged” (Carroll). Despite being part of the Luke and Claire Ghost Hunting Team, I felt that it was hard to connect to them. Their personalities made them repulsive human beings. Alongside with that is the awkwardness of the situations that they always get into. There are other characters that were introduced in the movie, however, only two were the relevant ones. First is Claire’s idol, Leanne. She is an actress on a break that later on turned out to be psychic attending a psychics convention. Next is the old guy who is already shady from the very beginning. (Spoiler alert!) He kills himself at the end because of loneliness. Initially, I thought that the old man is the fiancé of Madeline O’Malley, however, I realized that he is not. He was there for a much minor purpose.
Fast forward to the part that the ghost reveals itself through sounds and eventually showing herself. From John Clute’s 4 Movements of Horror, this is the sighting. The thickening happened when Claire heard the piano playing despite the deserted room. Next is revel. It was revealed that Luke’s website was fake. He fled the scene when Madeline O’Malley decides to talk to them in the storage basement. The ghost was revealed to be not alone. It has killed off other people which made them into the ghost. They have become violent and are actually trying to hurt Claire and Luke. The dead old man plays a role in scaring them. The aftermath is the ending. Claire dies. It was not actually seen how, but the ghost of Madeline O’Malley had crossed the line of space between her and Claire. We also had a glimpse of Claire’s ghost at the last scene where the door closed.
The revelation of the ghost was too fast for me. The movie would have retained its audience’s curiosity if they only showed Madeline O’Malley at the very end when Claire was about to get killed. As Carroll said, “audiences’ expectations revolve around whether this existence will be confirmed in the story.” It was difficult to stay hooked after seeing the ghost because the game of mystery and anticipation plummetted down. However, the question of “whether the creature can be destroyed,” is answered at the very end. The movie was able to portray a ghost that cannot be stopped, as justified by Claire’s death. Leanne, the actress was able to see the future as seen in the scene where Luke said that she knows what was going to happen.
John Clute, “The Darkening Garden.” Weird Fiction Review.
Noel Carroll, “Why Horror?.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).