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'The Innkeepers' Review: Haunted Hotel Lacks Guests, Scares


Writer-director Ti West is a low-budget auteur celebrated within the horror-boy fraternity as the future of their beloved form.

West is devoted to the genre’s pre-torture-porn past–to the slow buildup of tension rather than promiscuous slashes of gore. Unfortunately, in practice this means that for considerable stretches of his last film, “The House of the Devil,” and his latest, “The Innkeepers,” not a whole lot happens. Which is to say that, however admirable the director’s formal intentions, the movies themselves are kind of dull.

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Like “The House of the Devil,” which was an exercise in the babysitter-in-peril subgenre, “The Innkeepers” explores another horror readymade, the haunted house. The story is set in an elaborate old Connecticut hotel–an East Coast version of “The Shining’s” Overlook–that’s going out of business; in fact, this is the last weekend it’ll be open.

On hand in these waning days are two skeleton-staff employees, spunky young Claire (Sara Paxton) and older, mopey Luke (Pat Healy). Since only one of the hotel’s many rooms is occupied–by a sour runaway wife and her young son, whose presence in no way advances the plot–there’s not a lot to do. Luke spends his time behind the reception desk at a laptop working on his Website, which is dedicated to the paranormal. Claire is obsessed with stories she’s heard that the hotel is haunted–something about a gruesome event that took place there years before–and is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. (Since she’s presumably been working at this place for a while, you wonder why she has only now begun investigating.)

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