The Innkeepers is one mundane hotel that I shan't be staying in again. Is this the turning point? The realisation that I'm going psychotic? West's horror film is being lauded by critics and professional peers alike, including genre enthusiast Eli Roth of all people, as one of the "best, scariest and smartest" horror films ever. And here I am questioning the entirety of existence. Can we honestly just take a step back, finally put some critical skills into practice and appreciate how dreadful this film was? Did I miss something? No seriously, did I? This is without a doubt one the worst "horror" films I've ever had the misfortune of watching. The plot, if you can call it that, consists of two employees working the last weekend at a hotel where ghostly phenomena starts to arise.
Aside from maybe the concluding five minutes, I can categorically confirm that nothing happens in this film. Nothing. Not a thing. Nil. Zero. Nada. It's just a bunch of atrociously written characters, exhuming the personalities of surfer dudes for that juicy banter that we all so wanted apparently, running around with a recording device so they can update their hauntingly amateur website that is running on a Windows 98 laptop. Paxton was beyond irritating, screeching like R2-frickin'-D2 whenever an obnoxiously predictable jump scare played out, and then flailing her arms around waking up the guests of the hotel. Healy, in all his monotonous wholesome goodness, was diabolically boring. But the two together? Urgh. It's as if a belligerent teenager wrote the script thinking that if the characters would dance around pessimism, it would make for a hilariously quirky conversation. It's neither funny nor eccentric. Just dumb.
The underlying issue though is the fundamental absence of atmosphere. There's none! West seemingly thought he was channelling his inner Kubrick by alluding to 'The Shining', yet failed to understand what made the suspense flow. Retaining the camera's position for two minutes as the audience patiently waits for the jump scare to blow up, is not suspense. I've witnessed more tension in an advertisement for Premier Inn! I mean, including one of my least favourite people in the world (*cough* Lena Dunham *cough*) didn't exactly help matters either, but holy Madeline O'Malley I am seriously failing to see what all the fuss is about.
The excessive comedy diluted any atmospheric tension that West atleast tried to convey, bolstered by some genuinely innovative sound design. Yet as I mentioned, his inability to capture any suspense of ghostly scares was noticeable right from the immediate camera zoom. The conclusion also proves just how much of a terrible writer West truly is, as he wastes our time with apparition teases and asthma attacks.
West is so focussed on making this ghost story authentic, by referencing supposed hauntings in the real hotel (room 353 etc.), that he completely forgot that he was making a horror film and not a tepid documentary reenactment. Urgh. Never again. I'm burning the hotel down so that I never have to watch a staff member attempt to put a bag full of rubbish in a bin for five minutes.