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Review: The Innkeepers, starring Sara Paxton

Jan. 2, 2012by: Eric Walkuski
100%

PLOT: A small hotel on the verge of closing is the scene of ghostly encounters for two employees.

REVIEW: Not unlike director Ti West's HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS is a slow-burn spookfest that achieves most of its tension from not showing us very much. However, whereas HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was - for this reviewer - too little, too late upon the arrival of actual thrills, THE INNKEEPERS emits a quaint and genuine eeriness throughout, even if when it's all said and done it's a minor effort.

The last week in the existence of The Yankee Peddler sees two employees, Claire and Luke, saddled with the responsibility of looking after the place and its nearly nonexistent clientele. Claire (Sara Paxton), who has little to distract her from both the boredom of her job and her own mundane life, starts to take an interest in the paranormal pursuits of Luke, who has taken it upon himself to monitor the hotel's supposed haunting by the spirit of a jilted woman who killed herself. Luke (Pat Healy) is by turns fascinated by the endeavor and skeptical of it; it's tough to know what Luke really thinks of the supposed phenomena that is occurring within the Yankee Peddler, but Claire takes to it with a childlike gusto, immersing herself deeply into the investigation of the inn's negligible paranormal activity.

Claire's enthusiasm for the hunt is even further stoked by the arrival of Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis), a former actress who has now taken up a career as something of a spiritualist and psychic. Claire begins to see and hear small indications of unnatural goings-on, but how much of it is real and how much has been sparked by her vibrant imagination?

A lot of THE INNKEEPERS charm (or lack thereof) will be dependent on the viewer's reaction to the quirky performances of its two leads. Paxton, her blue-eyed beauty muted and her hair cropped close in tomboyish fashion, is silly-cute enthusiastic throughout most of the film, and her exaggerated reactions will be considered over-the-top if you're not won over by her. Pat Healy, in contrast, is the typical too-cool-for-school slacker, delivering most of his lines in a sardonic tone that will either amuse or put off.

The ending of THE INNKEEPERS will be another source of consternation for some, with an unexpected ambiguity clouding some of the odd events we've witnessed. Certainly, it will leave people debating just what exactly happened, with folks on one side (frustration) or the other (content) of the fence built by the conclusion's question marks. All things considered, however, West manages to sustain a rather spooky atmosphere in the unremarkable hotel, generating just enough tension and fun to keep us engaged. No, it's not going to scare the pants off of you, but those of you who like to hunker down with a quiet little ghost story should leave satisfied.

Extra Tidbit: THE INNKEEPERS hits Video On Demand on DECEMBER 30th; it will be in theaters in limited release beginning on FEBRUARY 3rd.

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9:55AM on 01/02/2012
Agreed! I really liked this and gave it the same score. Good review. Good old fashioned ghost flick!
Agreed! I really liked this and gave it the same score. Good review. Good old fashioned ghost flick!
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