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E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
It's the last days of an old ornate Inn in the heart of town. With only three days left before The Yankee Pedlar is closed forever, and with only one guest left, the owner of the place has left for a vacation. But the two people he left behind to care for the place, twerpy Luke (Pat Healy: UNDERTOW) and mousey Claire (Sara Paxton: Return to Halloweentown, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT , SHARK NIGHT 3D, ENTER NOWHERE), know their time of employment here is short and don't care. Working at the hotel was only an ulterior motive, the real reason they are here is to hunt ghosts.
Like any old building and especially hotels, The Yankee Pedlar Inn has a haunted past. Whether real, myth, or somewhere in between, a woman named Madeline O'Malley (Brenda Cooney: AUTOMATONS, EXORCISM: DRIVING OUT THE DEVIL, I SELL THE DEAD, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, SATAN HATES YOU) "haunts" the place, and Luke and Claire hope to capture the haunts on video for their website.
Like any movie Written, Directed, and Produced by Ti West, (THE ROOST, TRIGGER MAN, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER) and produced by Larry Fessenden (HABIT, I SELL THE DEAD, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, HYPOTHERMIA, BITTER FEAST, SATAN HATES YOU, STAKE LAND) and Ti and Larry's producing partner Peter Phok (TRIGGER MAN, I CAN SEE YOU, I SELL THE DEAD, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, HYPOTHERMIA, BITTER FEAST, STAKE LAND), the movie seemingly takes absolutely forever to tell any story at all.
In this case, its more tolerable than any previous Ti West attempt because Ti allows the actors to do more than sit or walk around for long silent pointless stretches. Luke pranks the hapless Claire on a few occasions, as well as getting scared himself, and because we are sometimes made aware of the oncoming prank, the tension of getting from point A to B is enjoyable.
Then a guest arrives, an old TV actress, Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis: WITNESS, THE HOUSE ON CARROLL STREET, SUPERGATOR, STAKE LAND), who is now into the paranormal. What is she doing there? Luke wonders. Does she "know" about the hotel?
As bashful as any small town fan of celebrity, Claire tries to acquaint herself with the reclusive Leanne. Luke however, sensing territory infringement, betrays Claire's confidence and openly attempts to embarrass Leanne into an early check-out.
Leanne will have none of either. She is there for a convention in the next town and is staying for the full weekend.
Meanwhile, an Old Man (George Riddle) checks in. A very long time ago, he spent his honeymoon here. His wife and he were going to celebrate their anniversary in the old Yankee Pedlar this year before it closed forever, but the life of the Old Man's wife closed first. So he's come to spend his first wedding anniversary alone and without his life long love, in the hotel where they began.
Then there's some other guests, other stuff, that doesn't go anywhere.
Whether "something" was always there, or was awakened via the investigations of Luke and Claire, the unexpected guests, or a combination, doesn't matter: something begins to stir in the old Yankee Pedlar, and it isn't friendly.
Adding to the overall atmosphere of THE INNKEEPERS is mood setting Production design by Jade Healy, (THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, AS GOOD AS DEAD) and surprisingly strong Cinematography by Eliot Rockett (CROCODILE, NIGHTSTALKER, FRANKENFISH, SCARRED, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER).
In the last quarter of the movie, things begin to finally happen, and once they get going, it's a frightfest all the way.
Unfortunately, for a Horror movie, around 80% of THE INKEEPERS is slow drama. The character development and relationship between Luke and Claire is good, as is the hesitant friendship budding between the reluctant Claire and the suspicious Leanne.
What never develops is why the ghost is there, what it wants, and why it would be after anybody. And that question will haunt you long after the credits.
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