Even the best movies found in the horror-comedy genre, such as the fantastic Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, have more comedy than horror to them. Sure, there are some truly horrific kills in Tucker and Dale, but they're more aimed at your funnybone than your... well, whatever it is that causes you to be scared. Then you have the fantastic indie horrorcom The Innkeepers, which delivers the perfect level of escalating fright and authentic goofball antics all wrapped into one eccentric little package for a compelling horror experience.
The Innkeepers is set in and shot in the Yankee Pedlar Inn, which is where director Ti West and his crew stayed while shooting The House of the Devil, in Torrington, Connecticut. The film is set during the last days of the Yankee Pedlar, a rustic little inn with more stories about the haunted nature of the place, than actual paying customers. The place only has two front desk workers left, the morose Luke (Pat Healy) and the quirky Claire (Sara Paxton), who are determined to find actual proof that the inn's former owner, Madeline O'Malley, is still roaming the Peddlar's halls as a spooky specter. Armed with EVP microphones, they roam the mostly-empty halls, when they start to find what they're looking for, just as mysterious new guests begin to check in... but do they check out? Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
Even if you hate every other aspect of this movie, I DARE you to not absolutely fall in love with Sara Paxton after watching her delightful, wide-ranging turn as Claire. Paxton brings such authenticity to the character, quaint and adorable one moment, and genuinely frightened the next, with a performance that had me smiling from ear to ear every frame. Pat Healy provides a great contrast to Paxton as the droll Luke, who seems to be passionate about finding this ghost in the Yankee Pedlar, but you can't really tell from his deadpan demeanor. It's great to see the subtle back-and-forth between Healy and Paxton, where the audience knows Luke has a crush on Claire, but Claire herself is totally oblivious. We also get an interesting supporting turn from Kelly McGillis as a washed up TV actress who checks into the hotel, and has become a psychic/medium after her acting days. Also look for a memorable cameo from Tiny Furniture writer/director/star Lena Dunham as a barista.
Writer-director Ti West delivers marvelously with a taut story, which starts out with subtle scares that build up to a fantastic finale that I really didn't see coming. After his work on The House of the devil and this film, Ti West has emerged as one of my favorite horror filmmakers. I'm really curious to see his next project as well, as he branches into the sci-fi world with The Side Effect.
The Innkeepers is the perfect marriage of horror and comedy, with a knockout performance by Sara Paxton and another superb showing by writer-director Ti West. Horror and comedy fans alike, be prepared to embrace the all-around awesomeness of The Innkeepers.