The Innkeepers (tbc)

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The ViewHamilton Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/06/2012

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Writer-director Ti West's follow up to House of the Devil is one of the best films of the year, thanks to a witty script, suspenseful direction, great characters, a strong sense of location and a terrific central performance from Sara Paxton.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Ti West (House of the Devil), The Innkeepers stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as Claire and Luke, a pair of 20-something slackers who are manning the late shift at Connecticut hotel, The Yankee Pedlar on its closing down weekend. With the hotel rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who hanged herself in one of the rooms, the pair spend a large part of their time playing ghostbuster, trying to capture paranormal evidence for their website about the haunting, but when Claire thinks she's found something, Luke is strangely uninterested.

Meanwhile, a small number of guests arrive at the hotel, including an angry mother (Alison Bartlett) and her young son (Jake Schlueter), a creepy old man (George Riddle) who asks for a specific, closed-off room and a former actress (Kelly McGillis) who claims to have psychic powers.

The Good
Sara Paxton is terrific as Claire, delivering a likeable, well rounded performance that's full of character and a far cry from her previous scream-queen/bikini-bait roles in films such as Shark Night or Last Night on the Left; frankly, it's the best female performance of the year so far. Healy is also excellent as Luke, nursing a mile-wide crush on his colleague and suggesting just the tiniest shade of darkness (which makes the audience uneasy but goes unnoticed by Claire) and there's also strong support from both McGillis and next-big-thing Lena Dunham in an entertaining cameo as the annoying barista next door.

The superb script spends a large part of the film on the relationship between Claire and Luke, which is extremely enjoyable to watch as they play pranks on each other and exchange witty banter, the result being that by the time anything spooky starts happening, we really care what happens to them. Similarly, West's sense of pace is impeccable, subtly building suspense by seemingly having nothing happen and keeping the audience guessing right up until the end.

The Great
Essentially, The Innkeepers is a proper ghost story where the scares go beyond the cheap shocks of having things jump out at you every few minutes (cough, The Woman in Black, cough), in favour of something genuinely moving that really gets under your skin. Indeed, The Innkeepers becomes more powerful the more you think about it afterwards and is certain to be a rewarding repeat viewing.

Worth seeing?
The Innkeepers is a hugely enjoyable 'ghost story for the minimum wage' (as an early tagline described it) that's by turns suspenseful, funny and ultimately moving, thanks to a superb script, assured direction and a terrific central performance from Sara Paxton. Unmissable and one of the best films of the year.

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Content updated: 19/12/2018 02:56

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