The Yankee Pedlar is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a young woman named Madeline O'Malley who, rumor has it, hanged herself in one of the rooms after her fiance left her standing at the altar. Luke claims to have seen the ghost, and Claire is anxious to do the same. They have plenty of time to search, seeing as they've taken up residence in the hotel, and since there are only two other guests: a strange old man (George Riddle) who says he spent his honeymoon in the Yankee Pedlar and a washed-up actress named Leanne (Kelly McGillis) who's become a "healer" with, coincidentally, the ability to contact with the spirit world.
Claire enlists Leanne's help, but the further they delve into the ghostly mystery, the greater the danger, and the amateur ghost hunters have to decide whether discovering the truth is worth risking their lives.
The End Result
In fact, most of The Innkeepers feels like a comedy that just happens to have a hint of the supernatural. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but the characters are likable, their interactions are fun and breezy and Healy and Paxton imbue them with a genuineness that's endearing. In particular, Paxton, who did little to distinguish herself in the woeful Shark Night, here proves herself to be a fine actress with great comedic sensibilities. It's a good thing the main characters are enjoyable, because they carry the bulk of the film, which doesn't deliver scares in earnest until the final 15 minutes or so.
Unfortunately, by the time it picks up the pace, the movie has so established its lighthearted tone that the neck-wrenching shift into horror mode makes it feel schizophrenic. Not helping matters is the fact that the plot, despite a promise of something more, ends up being a predictable, shallow ghost story. Like another recent film, Kill List, it intentionally leaves some things up to the viewers' interpretations, but while the journey in Kill List feels fresh and unpredictable, The Innkeepers is a creaky, overly straightforward mystery with too few twists and turns.
That said, West delivers an attractive, atmospheric final product, and while the climactic scares aren't cohesive to the overall story, they're effective in the moment. Patient viewers who don't expect a nonstop bloodbath should find just enough humor and horror in The Innkeepers to satisfy.
- Acting: B (Likable loser performances from Healy and Paxton.)
- Direction: B- (Attractive and atmospheric, but the scares and tone are uneven.)
- Script: C- (A bland, slow mystery lacking in twists.)
- Gore/Effects: C+ (Solid ghostly effects; only one gory scene.)
- Overall: C+ (Admirably restrained and enjoyably lighthearted, but hurt by a thinly drawn mystery.)
The Innkeepers is directed by Ti West and is rated R by the MPAA for some bloody images and language. Release date: February 3, 2012 (on demand December 30, 2011).