The Yankee Pedlar Inn is just days away from closing, and the owner has gone on a trip so two employees have to work night and day up until closing time. The two of them decide to stay at the hotel, as anything else would be literally impossible. On these boring nights they start talking about ghost and past experiences in the hotel, and they are soon getting ready to on a ghost hunt.
With "The House of the Devil" Ti West managed to create a horror movie with great atmosphere, a real slow-burner that actually worked. Up until that stupid fucking ending - me not being a fan of cults in films and all. Well, I knew I would check "The Innkeepers" eventually because hopefully he could stick with the atmosphere, and in the end come out with a solid movie through and through. And I must say, he does manage to create atmosphere again, but "The Innkeepers" sadly miss some other things I feel are necessities in the subgenre.
"The Innkeepers" works on a lot of levels, but if we'll start with the shallowest level - the plot. It's basically about two innkeepers working the final week before the place is closing down. Because their boss is away, they have to cover all shifts and decide to sleep at the hotel. Not like they have much to go home to anyway. Introducing Claire and Luke, both slight outsiders with few friends. But they have found a friendship in eachother, and these final nights are spent on something that fascinates them both - trying to find ghosts in the hotel. On Luke's website "Real Hauntings" there's a rumor of an old woman who supposedly died in the hotel many years ago, and Claire is now convinced that she has been in contact with her. This kicks off ghost hunts and psychological games between the two, and ultimately leads to disaster.
I think "The Innkeepers" is fairly lame as a supernatural/ghost movie simply because it's rarely scary. It relies too much on jump-scares, even though they work better than in most recent films. The problem is that the characters are slightly comedic and their relationship is based on messing around, and these scares often lead to Claire being scared like a little girl and getting angry at whatever it was that scared her. Sure, there are some non-jumpy moments that work, but overall it never manages to create the creepiness I got from the first two thirds of "The House of the Devil". Actually, "The Innkeepers" could also be compared to "Insidious" to some extent, since they are both recent ghost stories that bring back what worked in old films, but ultimately fail on some level. "Insidious" actually have great scares in the beginning, and then - well, you know what the fuck happened there. "The Innkeepers" has the atmosphere, a story I can accept, characters I enjoy watching (even at times when it's more comical) but never delivers the right scares.
Luckily for "The Innkeepers", I managed to sit down and watch it without expecting to be scared, even though I find this to be the most important part of a ghost story (after being a good story, duh). "The Innkeepers" works as a psychological game, a story about something we've all been facing: scaring yourself. Most of the time, that's what this is. It's nice to see a film that doesn't force itself to do too much all the time - "The Innkeepers" doesn't step into another dimension or anything stupid like that. It stays pretty grounded, even though there are some far-out visions to be found.
I enjoyed "The Innkeepers" more than "The House of the Devil" because I hated the ending of the latter, but "The Innkeepers" is also probably the easier film to watch. It's just a scare tale that some will see as a supernatural horror, and some as psychological thriller. Either is fine. "The House of the Devil" was definitely a love letter to a bygone era, and carried itself as such, and "The Innkeepers" is a modern movie with classic ideas used. Ti West might not be my favorite filmmaker since he seems to always do something important wrong in his films (well, can't comment on all of his films, I'll stick to these two - that's how I roll!) but I do prefer his stuff to the majority of junk in the mainstream machine. And at the end of the day this is a fun, fairly simple, spook ride.