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Stars: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, Alison Bartlett, Jake Schlueter, Lena Dunham, George Riddle
Director: Ti West
It’s been a quarter of a century since McGillis romanced Harrison Ford in Witness and Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Which makes her appearance here as a middle-aged grey-haired medium and former television star (“She’s super famous”, desk clerk Paxton breathlessly tells her older colleague Healy) one of the major surprises in a low-budget ghost story that’s stronger on cumulative suspense and creepy atmosphere than on outright “make-you-jump” shocks.
We’re in Darkest Connecticut where The Yankee Pedlar Inn is about to close after over a century. The last two employees, Paxton and West, tend to the needs of the few remaining guests while taking time off to find proof that reports that inn is haunted (way back, a bride had hanged herself after being dumped by her fiancé on their wedding day) are true. Which, of course, Paxton and computer expert Healy, find out the scary way…
The most potent aspect of The Innkeepers is the fact that it was shot in a very real location – The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut where writer-producer director, Ti West and his cast and crew had stayed in 2008 while shooting his previous picture, The House of the Devil. Of course the hotel was ‘dressed’ for The Innkeepers but the reality of the settings adds welcome realism to West’s storytelling.
After fairly long atmosphere-building dramatic foreplay, Paxton gets to announce exultantly “There’s a ghost in this hotel and I got it on tape! It’s a big deal!” and the action moves to the basement and the climactic close encounter of the spooky kind.
Horrorflick fans should appreciate nerdy Healy’s character – he has the logo “Evil Inside” on the lid of his laptop and hosts a passé-looking supernatural website complete with a poorly animated ghost as its motif. He and Paxton act as well as the material demands and McGillis smokes (to prove that she’s a tough type?) and gives her all.
The press notes tell us that West and Company learned that their location had the reputation of being a “haunted hotel”. But they would, wouldn’t they? Whether or not The Pedlar Inn was actually the home to spectres is irrelevant, of course since few, if any, moviegoers would know that. And in any case it doesn’t matter. The film works well enough on its own as an effective enough, if ultimately mild, ghost story.
USA 2011. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour by deluxe.
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.
Review date: 05 Jun 2012