The Innkeepers (2011)

It’s especially dumbfounding that director Ti West allows such pronounced homage to retro horror, yet ultimately drops the ball on two would-be modern horror classics that hover just below the mainstream. Like Wests’ the House of the Devil (2008), suspense goes hand in hand with an overdose of false scares. This includes when the two lead characters–who are attempting to prove the hotel they work at is haunted–watch a trick ghost video on the interweb. Preposterous! Not to mention the video was predictable.

There isn’t much story here, and it’s not even worth trying to understand any of the characters’ nonsensical behavior. Not to mention the entire film could be cut down to 25 minutes. There is a ten minute scene with Lena Dunham, of all people, that is absolutely unneccesary. Following that, the female lead–who of course has asthma–spends much of the time wandering around the hotel looking for spiritual contact. The slow pace is balanced by, well, pretty much the unrelenting suspense that never rewards (the piano is heard playing by itself, oooooo! it’s the ghost!). At least the Innkeepers (as well as House) has the balls to end a horror film with doom and gloom. The potential and growth for West is evident. Part of the problem is that too many critics are solely content with exaggerated atmosphere and cheap scares. [rating: $3] –Kenyon