Grimm up North – Ti West Double Bill
When Tom attended Grimm Up North’s Ti West Double bill to watch The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil, he genuinely had no idea of the crazy coincidence that would make it a very unforgettable night. Here are his thoughts…
As a huge fan of Ti West’s The House of the Devil I have been eagerly anticipating his new film The Innkeepers for some time. The Grimm up North Team arranged a screening of both of these films, with The Innkeepers being a special preview as it is not yet out here in England for a couple of weeks, and I was hoping that it would live up to the scares provided by his previous effort The House of the Devil. I had no idea of the very strange and creepy surprise that was in store for me, but it was something that I will never forget!
The House of the Devil
Having already witnessed The House of the Devil on the small screen I was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen accompanied by a crowd of like-minded horror fans. If anything I enjoyed the film even more the second time round as I was able to appreciate the artistry involved as well as the suspenseful story that Ti West delivers with ease. His meticulous directing style fits perfectly with the approach to his slow paced horror films that take a while for the scares to begin but reward the patience of the viewers.
Jocelin Donahue stars as college student Sam who is in desperate need of cash to pay the rent for her new accomodation and she resorts to taking a job as a babysitter during a lunar eclipse that is due to take place. Despite the horror cliches, Ti has crafted a love letter to eighties horror with such style that references the classics but puts a fresh spin on the story and how the events unfold. Although it takes a while for the carnage to begin, the build up to this is perfectly crafted to leave the audience at their wits end, with numerous opportunities for jump scares purposely left unused which ratchet the tension up to unbearable levels
It soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary babysitting job Sam has taken on and her exploration of the isolated house is a nailbiting experience, with strange discoveries leading her to question if she really should be there. The music adds to the suspense and is perfectly fitting with the eighties setting, transporting the audience back to more uncertain times where the belief in Satanic cults was fairly common, as stated by the opening message which sets the tone of the film to follow.
While The House of the Devil is an accomplished horror I can see why people may dislike it due to the slow pacing which is rarely seen in modern, gore-obsessed horrors. This is an intelligent film that requires a certain degree of patience but rightly rewards those willing to commit to Ti’s excellent vision. The ending is a tad disappointing but does not detract from what is an enjoyably eerie experience that horror fans should not miss.
FRC Rating 3.5/5
There are some moments in your life as a film fan that completely blow your mind and this happened to me during The Innkeepers for a reason most of you would never guess. I have only been to America once for two weeks a couple of years ago, and whilst there I stayed at just four different places, so you can imagine my shock when it turned out that the film was shot entirely on location at the Yankee Pedlar, one of the hotels I stayed at during my time there! It was an incredibly creepy place to stay in; there were very few guests there at the time and the long corridors and outdated decor created an unsettling atmosphere which could have been the perfect setting for a horror film, and I’m glad to see that Ti picked up on this. Some of the more graphic events depicted in The Innkeepers took place opposite the very room I stayed in and it was a very surreal experience watching the film and recognising the locations.
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To prove my story here are a few photos of me in the hotel that were taken late at night when I was attacked by a vengeful spirit (or maybe I was just a tad drunk, my memory evades me) and pushed to the floor. Unfortunately these are the only photos I have inside the hotel but I am glad that they clearly show the creepy corridor that leads to a room where some of the more sinister events in The Innkeepers take place. You may think that this will lead me to be a tad biased towards my thoughts on The Innkeepers and it definitely did heighten my enjoyment but I can assure you that Ti West has crafted yet another film influenced by the sensibilities of eighties horror classics that will terrify modern audiences craving something more than copious amounts of blood and gore.
Sara Paxton and Pat Healy star as Claire and Luke, the hotel workers tasked with looking after the guests in the run up to the hotels closure, and with few guests to keep them occupied they resort to taking part in paranormal investigations to pass the time. One of the remaing guests Leanne Rease-Jones (played brilliantly by Kelly McGillis who also appeared in the under-rated horror Stake Land) happens to be a medium and it is not long before Claire begins to wish that she had never tampered with the otherworldy spirits that inhabit the hotel. Much like The House of the Devil, it takes a while for The Innkeepers to get going but when it did I was genuinely terrified by the depictions of the paranormal beings that had taken up residence in the Yankee Pedlar.
I can understand that Ti West’s style of directing is not for everyone and whilst there is little in the way of exposition or a resolution to the events that transpire at the Yankee Pedlar, this just isn’t required. West takes the time to let us get to know his main characters and this makes us all the more nervous when things begin to go wrong. The slow pace heightens the tension for when the scares begin to arrive, and when they do it is relentlessly terrifying, making me wish that more horror directors had the courage to try the less is more approach that works so well in The Innkeepers.
There have been a number of harsh reviews for The Innkeepers and this baffles me as it is an exceptional horror that managed to scare and entertain me in equal measures and I hope that Ti West continues to work within my favourite genre. Highly recommended to those who appreciate subtle scares and slow but suspensful build-ups, The Innkeepers is a modern day horror that should not be missed
FRC Rating 4/5
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Have you ever had a strange experience relating to a film? Do you fancy staying in The Yankee Pedlar for the night? Let us know your thoughts below.