Directed by Ti West
Slow, but still effectively creepy, The Innkeepers is a refreshingly subtle horror movie which relies more heavily on character development and building suspense than simple jump-scares.
The cast prominently features only three performances. Sara Paxton plays the high-strung lead, Pat Healy as her wise-cracking friend, and Kelly McGillis as the necessary psychic character -- because all haunted house movies need at least one of those. These three all deliver perfectly acceptable performances; nothing awards worthy, but certainly not inconsistent or obtrusive. Perhaps the most effective performance in the movie comes from George Riddle as an unnamed old man who is largely prominent during only one scene. His minor performance adds an unsettling atmosphere to the picture thanks to his solemn and enigmatic approach to the role. Not great, but still effective.
The biggest flaw of this movie comes from its pacing. Where most horror movies might start providing scares much earlier on, Ti West instead lets his movie build up the tension and lets it all out in a single burst right at the end. He did the same with The House Of The Devil, but this time with more scares and without the '70s-style exploitation. Though I feel he was able to keep interest levels high even during the slow parts, I still think it could have worked better to throw in a little more action earlier on in the film -- even if just to remind us all that this is, in fact, a horror movie.
One must applaud the fact that instead of utilizing nothing more than jump-scare tactics to provide chills, West instead fashions a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere and let the thrills occur organically. Though this makes it a distinctly less exciting horror movie than the likes of, say, The Grudge Two, the slow, mounting tension is far more effective than a constant barrage of shocking imagery -- which almost assuredly quickly becomes redundant and is rendered completely ineffective.
Much like West's previous directorial effort The House Of The Devil, The Innkeepers is very slow to get started, but never slow enough to lose your interest. With several genuinely creepy moments, adequate central performances and a good sense of humor, this is a distinctly above average and quite enjoyable. Being the horror fan that I am, I can safely say that this is one of the better ones I've seen recently, and definitely worth giving a look.