For two movies about essentially the same thing (in this case, a haunting), Ti West’s “The Innkeepers” and James Wan’s “Insidious” have received vastly different reactions from SXSW attendees, with many liking one but not the other, and vice versa. Those who read my review of “Insidious” already know where my allegiance lies, because while “The Innkeepers” may fancy itself a horror film, there’s nothing particularly scary about it. Sara Paxton and Pat Healy star as the last remaining workers at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a fledgling hotel that has relied on stories of being one of New England’s most haunted locations to fill its rooms. But as the Inn’s final days draw near, the pair goes searching for proof that it’s actually haunted in one last effort to save the hotel from closing its doors for good.
Unfortunately, you have to sit through a fairly uneventful 100 minutes to find out the answer, and it’s not really worth the wait. Though West teases the audience with brief moments of suspense that continue to build as the story unfolds, there’s very little payoff, to the point that when the horror elements finally do kick in, they’re not as terrifying as you would hope. Instead, the movie spends a lot of time camped out at the front desk where the two leads shoot the shit and play tricks on one another. It’s witty and amusing at times, but never quite enough to hold your interest, despite the fact that Paxton and Healy actually have pretty good chemistry. If there’s one redeeming quality, it’s the fantastic score by Jeff Grace, which at the very least makes it watchable. That doesn’t change the fact that the film is still a mediocre film, and the only one that Ti West has to blame is himself, because while “The Innkeepers” certainly had the potential to reinvigorate the horror genre in the same way as “Insidious,” it falls short.