The Innkeepers (15)
A haunted hotel. Two bored receptionists. Only four paying guests. Dozens of empty rooms. A legendary spectre.
Wish fulfilment plays a big part in The Innkeepers as Claire and Luke (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy), the remaining staff of the once-resplendent Yankee Pedlar Inn, seek the vengeful ghost of jilted bride Madeline O’Malley.
Of course they find her, thus bringing to an end their flirting and hesitant almost-romance over the counter. The route to Madeline comes via Claire and Luke’s obsession with the inn’s sinister past. But as they joke and half-heartedly explore the labyrinthine hotel in home-made ghostbuster fashion, so they come to realise that they are meddling with something beyond their control.
Part tongue-in-cheek parody, part wannabe chiller, The Innkeepers fails to satisfy on either score. Yet it does manage to offer some serious jolts, not least when Claire blunders around a darkened cellar.
Writer/director Ti West appears nervous of the genre. He is more than capable of delivering high-grade shocks but shies away from full-on terror tactics, preferring nudge-nudge clue scattering.
The inclusion of Kelly McGillis as a mysterious writer only adds to the confusion as she provides dread answers to Paxton’s questions about the hotel’s history. Presented as the missing piece in a 100-year-old jigsaw, she is in fact a quasi Hitchcockian ‘MacGuffin’, there to throw up more questions than solutions.
Horror buffs will detect in West’s effort a touch of The Blair Witch Project, which remains the more superior film. Meanwhile The Innkeepers, whilst lacking depth, direction and cohesion, still manages to achieve a degree of genuine fright that so many of its genre stable-mates lack.