The Innkeepers was the closing film of this year’s Toronto After Dark film festival. I thought that it was a very interesting type of film, since it doesn’t really start off like a horror film, instead opting for a very slow burn, with the scares building up over the course of the film.
The film is about two staff members of a soon to be shut down hotel (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy), who double as paranormal investigators, as they look into the supposed haunted activity in the hotel. The film is split into three chapters, plus an epilogue. The first chapter of the film is nearly entirely comedic and I found this helped to lull the audience into a sense of security before the horror grows in the second two chapters.
The film has a very small cast, which helps build a sense of isolation in this creepy hotel. There are not many other characters in this film other than Paxton and Healy, with the most notable being Kelly McGillis as an actress/psychic staying in the hotel. In fact, much of the film is carried entirely by Paxton on her own and, as such, the success of the film was dependent on her performance.
As for scares, the film seemed to be more about the slow build of tension, rather than jump scares (though there are a few fake jumps early on). There are some frightening moments in the film, but the film is actually at its best when you are waiting for something to happen. There were many times in the film when I was waiting for something to jump out, only for the result to be somewhat unexpected.
In the end, I thought that The Innkeepers was an enjoyable old-school haunted hotel film. There are enough scares in the film to make me satisfied, though the film does not overdo it and have scares for the sake of having scares. A satisfying conclusion to Toronto After Dark.
As with all the films, this film was preceded by a short entitled The Lady Paranormal. This was a CGI-animated short about a woman and her interactions with a ghost. I actually thought that the short had a similar tone to Tim Burton’s Vincent, including poetic narration. I definitely enjoyed it.