The Innkeepers

For some people, life is fleeting, temporary. But to those who believe in the afterlife, a resurrection, death is inconsequential. Madeline O’Malley’s death was so sudden and unbelievable that it rocked the Yankee Pedlar Inn for ages. When employees Claire and Luke decide to investigate this haunting during the last weekend of business, they uncover more than they bargained for.

The Innkeepers movie plot was a run-of-the-mill, predictable horror story. Haunted Inn– girl goes ghost-hunting– ghost finds girl– trouble ensues. But when I saw the film in class, I was pleasantly surprised at how scary something so simple and predictable could be. I never expected when exactly the ghosts would appear, and the style of filming was so subtle that I felt I was somehow also involved in the movie. Part of the reason I was more scared than I should’ve been was because Claire, the main character, was portrayed to be vulnerable. She was a young woman who had asthma, and was out looking for the ghost of Madeline O’Malley.

Watching Claire be active in seeking out Madeline O’Malley didn’t quite give me the security that “seeing” what happens did. Claire wasn’t exactly powerless like when Angela from Rec didn’t see what was going on, but she also didn’t hold a strong “gaze”. It didn’t help that the psychic Leanne, and Claire’s co-worker Luke didn’t do much to stop her.

Although the movie was slow-paced as compared to others we’ve seen in class, there were a lot of elements in the film that made it an effective horror movie. In Linda Williams’s article “When the Woman Looks”, the author talks about the male and female gaze, and how it is used in horror film. Williams quotes another author Doane, “the woman’s exercise of an active investigating gaze can only be simultaneous with her own victimization” – which I think accurately describes the situation of Claire. I couldn’t help but notice that Claire’s courageous efforts at investigating the Inn and Madeline O’Malley (after she had been warned by the psychic Leanne) turned into a naïve decision which ultimately led to her death. The only question I have is, why? Why did the ghost of Madeline O’Malley haunt Claire? Could she have come back to life? And besides, didn’t her ex-fiance already join her in the afterlife? No explanation whatsoever was given to the viewers, and I could only assume that it was Claire’s asthma that took her in the end. I have to say, I really don’t like open endings – it’s like not finishing the end of a book – but in this case, it worked. If I’d seen Claire panicking and dying because of an asthma attack, the feeling of horror would’ve been dampeened for sure. In the end, I can say that the Innkeepers was a great movie. It made me look where I did not want to, and surprised me at every turn. I hope to watch more horror movies like that in class.

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