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The Innkeepers Blu-ray Review: A Slow and Mediocre Horror

Ti West's latest offers a study in old school slow burning American horror that proves watchable if unmemorable.

rating: 2.5

Hands up. Honestly, when this was offered to me, I thought the message said €œThe Inbetweeners€. Top notch I thought. But alas, my fleeting illiteracy landed me with the Inn Keepers, a film poorer by comparison that is somewhere "Inbetween" good and awful. This latest effort from The House of the Devil director, Ti West, sees our Keepers holed up in a soon to close Inn with a haunted past. As boredom sets in, through a mixture of scepticism, tedium and curiosity, they set out to find out the truth. The Inn looks like an updated version of the Overlook Hotel, just with better access routes, a few guests and less snow. The potential for creaking floorboards and spider webs abounds. Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) decide to try and find out what happened to Madeline O€™Malley, the resident spook, suicidal bride and star of Luke€™s wesbite. Ti West plays it slow with plenty of foreboding sounding background music keeping the audience from settling too comfortably in their seats. A lack of volume when it comes to the central cast means dialogue is forced with as much exposition squeezed in to each breath. Without anyone asking we know why we are here, where is everyone, what we going to do for the next few hours and why is that slightly strange guest here and a decent chunk of her life story. Useful if a little unimaginative. It€™s like the really helpful security guard at the end of Wayne€™s World, without the intentional (or unintentional) funny. The pace is slow, with West keeping to a low scare per minute ratio. Those frights we do get feel wedged into the script to remind the audience this is meant to be a horror and not just a well produced Channel 5 documentary about . The setting is used to good effect at least, the film trying manfully to build suspense with long camera shots down the stretched dingy corridors coupled with a constant score of looming or threatening music to emphasise YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT YOU MAY BE SCARED AT ANY MOMENT that does actually work at times. Paxton just about manages to hold your attention as our guide through the story as Claire. Sadly, the part co-worker Luke plays draws little connection to him for us as he slouches through his job, his boredom at being stuck in the hotel itself being one that is difficult to say is acting and hardly inspires an interest in him when things get their most frightful. With a cast of oddities or two dimensional guests (the annoyed mother, the strange old woman) making up the other guests, we keep coming back to Paxton to give us something to follow. Her mix of innocence and curiosity just about conveys enough of a watchable element to keep your attention as she gasps into her asthma inhaler with every shock. West keeps the sightings of the spooks to a minimum with any appearances kept off camera and only in the eyes of Paxton to at least keep you wondering about their existence. Instead West chooses to show their presence in the faces of the characters hyperventilating nearby. As the film reaches its climax the action becomes gorier and the camera angles more tilted as things begin to unravel from the earlier humdrum. One by one, characters frustratingly start wandering off-screen by themselves to leave the audience to imagine who will get it next before the film builds to its crescendo that at least serves up some genuine frights. Verdict: A study in old fashioned low budget horror, the story is drip fed through for the first hour before returning to a more contemporary shocker. Having kept the audience just about uneasy with a hint of almost bored for most of the movie, the finale is the saving grace and gets your heartbeat going to give a bit of body to a film that for large parts was rather flat. One for the horror students and Ti West fans but not for everyone else. Extras: A short behind the scenes video and two commentaries with various cast and crew. The Innkeepers is available now on all the usual formats.
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Follow @BallInTouch on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest rugby news and columns. Jeff Ball is a Geordie with a Newcastle Falcons season ticket, a rugby coaching badge, a bias for Newcastle United on Playstation games and was terrified by Jurassic Park as a child. For more of his personal musings following him on Twitter @JeffreyBall If you have any comments about this story please post a comment.