Friday, 2 September 2011



Hurrah! Easily the best film on show at this year's Frightfest, this is a lovingly fashioned horror movie made in the traditional manner - subtle, intelligent, leisurely based, impeccably crafted and very creepy - rather than the frenetic noise and stupidity of the last four hundred teensplat offerings. And another winner from Ti West: it's not quite up there with the wonderfully retro House Of The Devil but it's still a thoroughly involving and genuinely spooky piece of work. (Admittedly I didn't care for The Roost at all and I think we can all agree that Cabin Fever 2 was just a mess.)

The Innkeepers are actually the two bored staff members at the long-standing Yankee Pedlar Inn, about to close permanently. Over the hotel's last weekend, in between playing idiot pranks on each other, surfing the web for porn and generally goofing around, they're slightly interested in solving the old mystery of the inn's ghost - whether the place is indeed haunted by the spirit of a former resident. Might there be something in the cellar? What's with the old man who's just checked in? Or the one-time TV star (Kelly McGillis)?

Really, the less you know the better about the specifics of the plot, the better: this is one of those films it's best to let sneak up on you. It also has a nice light touch - the two aren't really serious ghostbusters and spend as much time bickering and messing about as they do looking for the ghost. This doesn't put you through the wringer nearly as much as Insidious, but it's still yet another depressing instance of 1970s pastiche cinema's ability to be better, more enjoyable and more effective than today's technically shiny but soulless genre movies.

Slowburning chillers are usually more rewarding as horror movies than hyperactive orgies of just flinging horrible stuff at the lens. The Innkeepers takes its time, it's not interested in lobbing shocks and gore at you simply because it's been twelve minutes since the last one - it'll scare you in its own good time. But when it does, it does it very well. My favourite Frightfest screening of the year and, while it's not the best movie of the year, it's certainly one of the top horror films.


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