Friday, 29 June 2012

Review: The Innkeepers

Rating: 15
Duration: 101 mins

Echoing sentiments of underrated 2009 horror The House of the Devil, Ti West's latest indie, The Innkeepers, serves up similar traits that made the former so watchable.

Set in the Yankee Padlar Inn during its final weekend of business, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) settle into reception for the night as the pair muse over supposed hauntings before they alternate shifts in between a few hours of shut eye. The speculation of alleged haunter Madeline O'Malley -- a woman who, decades ago, hung herself and was hidden in the basement -- is the catalyst for its unsettling narrative that raises anticipation levels at a painstaking pace. 

West uses his much honed skills in building suspense and generating genuine fear from a suggestion: like with Devil, he meticulously and ever-so-gradually hints at horror without explicitly spoon feeding a reveal nor offering immediate pay off. Whereas in some instances this lack of reward can frustrate, it instead adds to the intensity. It's this refreshing uniqueness of mundanity that appeals as a character study, making shocks that occasionally occur rather more impactful. 

Both Paxton and Healy exude a likeable quirkiness, convincing chemistry as well as a grounded normalisation of the situation, as things slowly begin to verge into paranormal territory. West teases with his ability to take audiences on a satisfying journey towards the film's climax and -- in keeping with the tone of the movie -- ends with a heightened yet believable conclusion.