Monday, February 13, 2012

The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers
seen @ Village East Cinemas, New York NY

So once again I found myself watching a movie that I kept seeing written about on other blogs and talked about glowingly. I feel pretty certain in saying that if that hadn't been the case, I would've completely missed out on The Innkeepers, an entertaining and engrossing old-fashioned ghost story. To sum up: a couple of twenty-somethings are working at an old New England (?) inn during its final weekend of operation, one with a reputation for hosting a centuries-old ghost which they're determined to find.

It takes a lot to get me to pay to see a current (American) horror movie these days. It seems like the average horror movie fan's tastes are greatly out of step with my own, but then I'd imagine their tastes are more refined. I enjoy watching a good bloodbath every once in awhile, but these days most horror movies look alike to me, which is one big reason why the horror films I wrote about last Halloween were old ones.

This is why I'm so glad I chose to take a chance on The Innkeepers. I liked the main characters, especially perky Claire, the star, and I cared about what happened to them. The humor feels natural and the scares are definitely earned. Writer-director Ti West takes his time with the story, but when things start happening, they happen in a hurry. It was nice to see Kelly McGillis on the big screen again, even though I totally didn't recognize her. She's aged quite a bit from her Top Gun and The Accused roles back in the 80s, but she still looks good, and she has a plum of a supporting role here.

What impressed me the most about The Innkeepers is how it defied my expectations at every turn. This is a horror movie where everything is taken at face value, and I shouldn't go into any further detail about that because it would mean revealing spoilers. Let's just say that I kept expecting the story to conform to the expected horror movie standards, and it didn't, not out of meta-textual self-awareness, Scream-style, but because everything is presented so straightforwardly. You are led to believe that the danger is real and anything is possible, but even when what happens in the end happens, you still don't quite believe it because you keep waiting for a last-minute reveal or a fake-out of some kind, because that's what we've come to expect from most mainstream horror movies. Not here, though.

It was a busy Saturday night at the Village East. I got there early, and before the movie started, I snuck into a screening of The Artist for a few minutes. I saw the scenes where George and Peppy are rehearsing their dance and Peppy keeps laughing and messing up the take, and then later, when she's alone in George's dressing room and playing with the sleeve of his coat. There are other films I liked better in 2011, but if when this wins Best Picture, I won't be disappointed.

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