The Innkeepers (2011) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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The Innkeepers (2011)

Directed by Ti West

Starring:
Sara Paxton
Pat Healy
Kelly McGillis
Alison Bartlett
Jake Ryan
Lena Dunham
George Riddle
Brenda Cooney
John Speredakos

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are two young employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a once-grand hotel that is about to close. Claire and Luke are the only employees working during its final weekend of operation. Both are ghost hunting enthusiasts and are fascinated by the hotel’s supposedly haunted history, which includes the legend of Madeline O’Malley, a bride who hung herself in the 1800s when her husband abandoned her on their honeymoon, and whose body was supposedly hidden in the basement by the hotel owners.
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As I’m so far behind on my reviews for Halloween Horror Fest, I’ll keep this one short. I say that a lot but I mean it this time. 😉

In the middle of watching this, I actually paused to look it up at The IPC to see if Eric had reviewed it. Yep! And he liked it. Yay! You can read his review HERE.
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This really is one of those films that you’ll like or you’ll hate. I’ve seen enough reviews here now to know that people are divided on this one. Count me as one of the people who liked it.
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If you like the slightly more old school movies about hauntings, you may like The Innkeepers. If you don’t mind a movie that (very) slowly builds up to the finale and doesn’t have loads of in-your-face predictable jump scares or gore, you may like The Innkeepers. If you like the likes of Saw, etc, you may not like The Innkeepers.
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My all-time favorite horror movie (Or maybe second favorite – it’s close. I’ll know when I do the list of my top ten horror films soon!) is The Shining. I’m not one to get scared by a movie but The Shining is genuinely creepy. The Overlook Hotel itself is probably the creepiest thing about the film. The Yankee Pedlar Inn, while not as creepy as The Overlook, is still not a place where I’d want to spend the night. There are loads of old hotels like this in England and I had the bright idea to stay in one once. Dumb idea! I didn’t sleep a wink. Plus there was a door/hatch/whatever in the ceiling RIGHT above the bed. I stared at that thing all night thinking I’d see some red eyes peering out at me or something. So, yeah – a “haunted inn” movie is the type of movie for someone like me. It won’t be for everyone.
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When it comes to horror movies, the one thing I can’t stand more than excessive and unnecessary gore is annoying & unlikeable characters who do stupid things. I can handle a bit of blood and there’s a bit at the end of The Innkeepers but nothing bad and not something I couldn’t watch.

Although the character of Luke is somewhat annoying, I found Claire very likeable. She’s sweet, naive, and a little dorky. She reminds me a little of me when I was young and used to actually still be sweet. Okay – you may say she “does some stupid things” but nothing I can’t forgive. I know what I’m like – although I’d be scared shitless working in a “haunted inn”, I know I’d go exploring things and trying to see the ghost. Because I’m an idiot. But then I’d shit myself and run away screaming like Claire does if I actually saw anything. (She doesn’t literally shit herself. Me neither). Claire feels like a “real” person and I like that – it makes it easier to buy into a movie when you can relate to at least one of the characters.

I also liked Kelly McGillis in the role of the retired actress turned psychic staying at the hotel and whom Claire turns to for help (Did I use “whom” correctly there? Always confused by that one!). I’ve always had a soft spot for McGillis since finding out she couldn’t stand Tom Cruise when filming Top Gun and that they used to do things to piss each other off on purpose.

I like how this film is almost a comedy at first and gets you knowing & liking the characters as they just stand around and talk a lot and discuss the inn’s creepy history because they find it fun & intriguing. But then the film changes & suddenly turns into a pretty seriously scary movie at the very end. I even found the ending to be satisfying, unlike so many other horror films. It comes full circle and it makes sense. Good stuff. I liked it. Don’t listen to the haters!
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Summary:

The Innkeepers is a fairly tradtional “haunted inn” story that takes its time (REALLY takes its time…) letting us get to know and like the characters as we watch them do little more than talk to each other and discuss the inn’s history in the final weekend before it’s closed for good. The characters feel like real people who do slightly crazy things that real people would do. Things are pretty light & comedic until, finally, the ending turns into a pretty damn scary movie. Not for horror fans who only like a lot of in-your-face scares and loads of gore, The Innkeepers is more my type of “horror” movie.

My Rating: 7/10

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You’re Next (2011) Review (Yeah – the current horror film)

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You’re Next (2011?? What? Apparently so… Looks like it spent a couple years at film festivals first)

Directed by Adam Wingard

Starring:
Sharni Vinson
Nicholas Tucci
Wendy Glenn
A. J. Bowen
Joe Swanberg
Barbara Crampton
Rob Moran
Ti West

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

The Davison family gathers at a remote house in the woods (as you do) to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of their parents. While celebrating, the family is attacked by a gang of masked invaders.

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My Opinion:

It’s been too long since I’ve gone to a movie (like, a month!). After spending the past couple of days catching up on reading all the blogs here, I read loads of extremely positive reviews for You’re Next (plus one blogger who hated it). So, even though I’m not really a modern horror fan and a massive wuss about gore, I said what the hell as it’s only 95 minutes long and went to it.

Now, I’m just back from this and still trying to collect my thoughts but figure I should get this review out there quick otherwise I’ll never get around to it. Normally I like to think about the film for a day or two. I’m not entirely sure yet how I feel about it. I think there are some good things about it but I was disappointed that there wasn’t even more dark humor than there actually was – from the reviews I read I thought there’d be a little more of that. What there was, I enjoyed (especially at the end).

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I liked that there’s a strong female lead. I get bored with women in horror movies seeming to only be there to flash their tits and then die horribly. I suppose I liked some of the more “inventive” deaths but, not being a fan of gore or slasher flicks (other than the cheesy 70s & 80s ones), it was a bit hard to watch. And I didn’t exactly watch the screen the whole time! So… I suppose I’m not actually the best judge on just HOW gory it got. Certainly sounded rather, um… Juicy at times! Okay – I think it’ll be easier to just break this one down into what I liked and didn’t like so much…

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What I liked:

– Like I said, a strong female lead who isn’t just there to show us her boobs.

– Some inventive deaths although really too violent for this wuss.

– Barbara Crampton played the mom. And she’s aged really well. The chick from Re-Animator! And Chopping Mall, which I love but shouldn’t. That kind of horror is more my speed… And, um, The Young & The Restless! I used to watch it when I lived in America, okay?! So sue me. :-p

– The animal masks were pretty cool.

– The dark humor but I wished there’d been more .

– The fact that the guy who directed a movie I just happened to watch two nights ago (Ti West – The Innkeepers) is actually in this. (I love IMDB). FYI: I preferred The Innkeepers to this.

– The length. Maybe bad for a film-lover to admit but I think horrors & comedies don’t need to be much more than an hour and a half long.

– The music at the end. It was a bit… I don’t know. Reminded me of The Thing with a little bit of Dawn of the Dead? I know too little about movie music to continue this discussion – just thought it worked well at the end of the film.

– The second half. I thought it started out quite slow and took a fairly long time to get interesting. But it really picked up speed about halfway through.

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What I Didn’t Like So Much:

– Too violent.

– Not enough of the dark humor – more would have made this one better. I’m not talking Tucker And Dale Vs Evil levels of humor (I loved that one – and it gives me a chance to link to a review of mine, I guess! Review HERE). But there’s so little that it almost felt out of place.

– Felt a little pointless (PART 1). We’ve seen home invasion movies a lot and others have done it better. It felt like a pretty standard home invasion flick but with more gore. It will be and probably has been compared to The Strangers, which I thought was better in terms of suspense & creepiness. Also think I preferred the film Ils (Them). And (I’m going to get in big trouble for this one and have a bunch of you horror fans yelling at me) I liked The Purge better than You’re Next (I won’t go into full detail on that now – my review is HERE if you’re bothered). The Purge at least had a great concept even though it wasn’t as well executed as it could have been. You’re Next has an extremely simple concept we’ve already seen many times but its execution was better than that of The Purge. So I guess it depends on what you prefer from a film…

– Felt a little pointless (PART 2). As far as the violence… I don’t always get as into violent films like these when the people don’t seem THAT horrible but we have to watch them die in awful ways. Other bloggers have said the family is unlikeable so it’s fun watching them die but, aside from a brother who comes across as a prick, they don’t really seem deserving of the excessive violence. But that’s probably just me – I’m not a fan of all the torture porn that’s around these days. You’re Next doesn’t fall into that category but the violence feels a little unnecessary at times. Or… Pointless. Not that every film (and certainly not every horror film) NEEDS to have a point. But… I don’t know what I’m trying to say so I’ll sum this up now.

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Summary:

You’re Next is a pretty standard home invasion flick but with more gore, a couple inventive deaths, and a sprinkle of dark humor. Horror fans who love the more violent films of the genre will like this one. Luckily a strong female lead helps make up for some of the film’s weaknesses and the final half of the film is much stronger than what I thought was a pretty slow start. Overall I don’t think it’s a bad film – it’s a decent enough film for its genre but doesn’t feel as fresh & original as I was kind of expecting from the many reviews that I’d read. Maybe I’m just too picky these days?

My Rating: 6/10

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**I suppose I’ve not even mentioned the other horror film that’s received lots of praise this year too – The Conjuring. Much more my type of horror and I feel it’s more worthy of the praise it received. Review HERE.