Origin/Director: USA/Ti West
Viewings Tally: This is my second viewing! I loved it when it first came out nine years ago!
Synopsis: “Some guests never checked out.” During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay. [Letterboxd]
Reely Bernie’s Take: For a much deserved “fall break” from teaching online, in-person, and a hybrid of both at our local private, Jesuit high school, my wife and I traveled to Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs to soak in the hot springs and maybe catch a ghost or two. As with many of these historic mountain hotels in Colorado, this one has many stories involving the dead, furniture pieces being moved out of place at night, and gold miner apparitions peaking through the windows the next morning. It is typical fare for this musky, wooden artifact with many levels of overnight stays since 1893.
This was our second visit in four years, and as per usual, the experience was worth every jittery response to random noises and my occasional detection of supernatural energy. Without shame, I admit I occasionally carry an “Electric and Magnetic Field” (EMF) meter, which will detect abnormal movement and energy within a room by the power of 2 double A batteries. Last time, my device recorded something near the nightstand, and I found it exciting that the alarm clock would go off randomly at night. (My wife did not.)
I bring this whole story up because this experience correlates with my next Reely Bernie Horror Fest movie, The Innkeepers (2011).
What an extraordinary little horror movie!
Going against the conventional horror first/questions later formula, this one places more of its focus on its two leads than the spooks that occur within the hotel rooms. This prioritizing of character development is refreshing, kind of cute (nerd boy crushes on pretty coworker played by Sara Paxton), and more relatable. It is an added bonus that the Yankee Pedlar Inn is a real-life, historic hotel in Torrington, Connecticut, and the paranormal curiosity of our two leads is only natural.
There is a jaw dropping paranormal surprise at the halfway point, but I left this movie after my first viewing feeling more sympathetic toward these two vulnerable lovebirds than frightful of the ghosts that burrowed in the hotel walls. Upon my second viewing, I left feeling more compelled to visit this haunted landmark. (Too bad it has been shuttered closed since 2014.)
Director Ti West has made a name for himself in postmodern horror movie lore. He accomplished a very effective found footage flick in V/H/S (2012), and his 80s throwback gem, The House of the Devil (2009) is one of the most overlooked, underappreciated horror films of the 21st century.
If there is such thing as a charming and even upbeat horror movie, The Innkeepers fulfills both descriptors. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I admire this movie’s love of all of things historic, undead, and paranormal. This is the movie for people who occasionally carry around an EMF meter to detect ghosts when traveling to Hotel Colorado with their loved one.
The Shot that Won’t Let Go:
Final Score: 3.5 EMF devices out of 5
Have you seen it? What did you think? Some people didn’t think it was scary enough, but I thought its realism and patience actually made it more scary…