After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees – Claire (Sara Paxton, Shark Night 3D, The Last House On The Left) and Luke (Pat Healy, The Assassination Of Jesse James, Magnolia)- are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England’s most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.
The Innkeepers 7.5
eyelights: its mixture of chills and humour. its setting. its score.
eyesores: its TV movie quality.
You know how appearances can be deceiving? The Yankee Pedlar Inn, a Torrington, Connecticut hotel built in the late 19th century, looks like a simple inn. But beyond its New England colonial architecture and period décor lies a greater secret: ghost hauntings.
The real-life Yankee Peddler has a reputation for supernatural activity. Though as of yet unconfirmed, its reputation has made of it a tourist attraction for ghost hunters of all sorts. It has also drawn the filmmakers behind ‘The Innkeepers’, who shot their picture there.
And set their story in the Yankee Peddler Inn itself.
The deceptiveness of appearances also applies to movies. While ‘The Innkeepers’ may look like a more traditionally atmospheric ghost story, it’s instead a quirkier number, dividing its attention between light-hearted interactions and the more sombre business of horror.
The picture, which was written and directed by Ti West, takes us to the front desk of the Inn, which is being run by Luke and Claire. Luke, an older, wearier employee, has been building a website showcasing the Inn’s various hauntings – which he once experienced.
Claire is a rookie and she is helping him gather information. The pair, who work overnight, take turns sleeping in various rooms of the Inn to see if there is any paranormal activity. They’ve already completed the third floor and are in the process of doing the second floor.
And that’s when the ghost of Madeline O’Malley appears!
The picture, which is split into three chapters, begins with a more quirky flavour, finding the two innkeepers just killing time at the front desk, shooting the $#!t and interacting with the few guests. It’s only at about the midway point that it lets the spooks seep in.
It’s a slow burn.
In some ways ‘The Innkeepers’ feels like a TV show: its static shots, slow pace and video quality all seem designed for television, not the cinema. And not even a TV movie, either – a TV episode. I don’t know if it was intentional, but to me this quality evoked pleasant memories.
The performances were also of that kind of caliber. Though they aren’t natural, they’re okay, and both Sarah Paxton and Pat Healey give Claire and Luke distinctive flavours. The rest of the miniscule supporting cast does a fine job of fleshing out their own characters.
For me, though, truly the most memorable personage is the Inn itself. I’m no great fan of its façade, but inside is a spacious, classy and pristine establishment that made me think of a smaller scale Overlook Hotel. It’s a perfect setting for this story, fueling isolation as it does.
Of course, ‘The Innkeepers’ is no ‘The Shining‘; it’s not nearly as crafty in its psychological games as that one was. But its intention is also very different: peppered with humour and punctuated by ironic fake scares, it wants to make its audience chuckle first before scaring it.
Thankfully, it succeeds relatively well at both. And backed by a nicely atmospheric setting and a terrific score by Jeff Grace (who is really starting to make a name for himself in the genre), it makes an unmistakable impression. Not bad for a low budget horror picture.
I’ll be visiting the Yankee Peddler Inn again.
Date of viewing: October 28, 2016