The Innkeepers – Film Review
TL;DR The Innkeepers does a fantastic job of setting up a tight, promising setting and 2 relatable main characters. Then does absolutely nothing with them. Wasteful. 2 out of 5 stars.
Honestly, if it had ended after the first 40 minutes, I probably would have given it a 3. It really just stalled. Badly.
The plot follows Claire (a fucking wonderful Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), staff at a soon-to-be-closed, old school hotel. They’re the skeleton crew for its final weekend of operation. Luke fancies himself an amateur ghost hunter, which rubs off on Claire. She stumbles upon some creepy phenomena, which she believes is related to an old tragedy that occurred within the hotel. Nothing happens for a long time, then Claire is killed by the ghost for no reason. Subplots include Luke’s emerging skepticism, and a faded TV star-cum-psychic (Kelly McGillis) who helps/bonds with Claire.
Ugh, I was just so disappointed with this one.
I knew it was kind of an indie darling, and those opening minutes with Sara Paxton, who is sporting a cute-ass hairdo and not playing a stuck-up bitch for once, were very impressive. She was adorable, proactive and I could see a lot of myself in her (despite the fact that she is adorable and proactive. Quite an achievement). But it went nowhere.
I don’t know if I can stress that enough.
The scares never get there. The ghost stuff never escalates. The TV star character flits in and out of focus and never properly contributes. There’s no resolution for the ghost story.
And to top off how pointless the whole thing is, Claire gets randomly killed by the ghost she was trying to help, and then the movie just ends.
In what little defence I’ll offer for ghosty-LaRue, though, Claire technically dies from an asthma attack, brought on by terror.
But it’s still the ghost’s fault.
Why I hate this movie:
That ghost is one ungrateful bitch.
It’s never clear what the ghost chick wants or what she’s doing or anything like that. It’s frustrating. She’s pretty much just stitched up with the ol’ “angry/sad spirit hanging around for shits and gigs” thing and we never learn anything else. She appears to Claire all spooky-ish a couple of times, but that’s it. Then she fucking kills her. Cunt.
Similarly, the old dude who turns up isn’t explained in any meaningful way. I thought he was supposed to be a ghost or some shit. Possibly Madeline’s (the ghost chick) husband who jilted her (a suicide note Claire finds in his room highly suggests this). But then he is found dead with his wrists slashed in the bathtub, and his body is wheeled out by paramedics later, so we know he was actually real. But that doesn’t make sense, because if he was real, he’d be way too old to still be alive. It’s not creepy. It’s just frustrating.
Claire also investigates fucking strange noises coming from the basement when she knows she should be leaving, and that’s what leads to her death. Bitch, ain’t you watched Scream?
The movie never really takes advantage of the beautiful old hotel setting. We’re mostly confined to the rather cramped lobby, the small rooms, the ambiguous layout of the basement, and a few quick shots of the dining room. I guess it was probably a budget thing, but I would have liked more interaction with the hotel. As is, the setting comes off as mostly incidental. Which is a shame. It worked for the The Shining, didn’t it?
Luke’s website is hilariously awful. Think 90s, Angelfire, Geocities esque. And Claire seems to be genuine when she compliments him on it. I lol’d (but it’s not a good thing).
There’s a stressed out woman staying at the hotel with her son while she takes a break from her husband. Claire runs downstairs at one point in a shirt and undies because she’s freaked out, then bitchy mum bitch acts like Claire just fucked a transvestite hooker in a 3 way with Eddie Murphy with her level of moral outrage. Step off.
Oh, and once again, I’m pissed off that Claire died. She was rad. It should have been Luke.
Reasons to watch:
Claire is great. She’s a young, 20-something college drop-out who has found herself in a dead-end job in what I guess is her hometown and doesn’t know how she’s supposed to go on with her future. Replace that drop-out bit (though a fine arts degree is essentially equivalent), and she’s pretty much me. Yes, I am a beautiful, thin, blonde woman as well. How dare you doubt me.
Her initial interaction with Leanne (the TV star) is great for this. Leanne asks her what she’s doing with her life, and although Leanne is snootily belittling, Claire’s predicament was so relatable. I just wanted to give her a hug.
Speaking of people who would want to give Claire a hug (or a root), the obligatory romance between her and Luke wasn’t egregious. It develops naturally and subtly. And there’s the right level of akwardness to go with the saccharine. Though he is so not cute enough for S-Pax.
The revelation of Luke’s having faked all the stuff he supposedly experienced in the hotel was a surprise to me. His subsequent freakout was therefore believable. And although he does return to help Claire, it’s not Hollywood overblown white-knighting. These 2 really do feel real.
Best line goes to Luke: “Pessimism is just a higher form of optimism.” That’s what I’ve been saying!
Second best line goes to Lena “I’m that girl from Girls. You should know who I am by now” Dunham. She’s a barista at a local diner Claire goes to and she’s trying to have some relationship talk with her: “We’re all girls here.” Get it? Because her show is called Girls?
Claire also doesn’t give a fuck about wanting to chit chat with her, simply because Claire is slightly judgemental and finds Lena annoying. Which she and Luke complain about later. So bitchy. So real.
Claire and Luke get drunk together while on shift. If only life was like the movies.
Oh, and there’s an extended sequence where Claire tries to heft a leaky bag of rubbish into a dumpster. It’s fucking sublime.
You’d think from all that praise I just puked out, that 2 stars wouldn’t make sense. But for all that it set up right, The Innkeepers spoils it utterly by being a bland, unimpressive sack of trash that takes too long to get thrown into the bin. 2 out of 5 stars.