“Curiosity killed the cat,” as the old saying goes. Whether the cat really died, this saying presents a universal truth for man: he has a natural and innate sense of curiosity that pushes him to unravel the world’s greatest mysteries from science and math to even religion. While this has propelled man to go forward, it can also kill as the saying goes, like what we have seen in the movie “The Innkeepers”.
Probing on the haunting story of Madeline O’Malley, innkeepers Claire and Luke see themselves in their last chance to have a ghostly encounter in the centuries-old Yankee Pedlar Inn. However, they find out that their curiosity does not only trigger paranormal activities in the inn, but also of a number of deaths including Claire’s. As a result, we come to question who really the innkeepers in the film are. Is it really Claire and Luke or is it the centuries-old ghosts that live in the inn? The answer naturally tends towards the latter.
The slow pace of the film naturally evokes this sense of curiosity within the audience, aching to want to see more. Unlike Rec 2, the unhurried build-up also allowed us to delve more not only in the hallways of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, but also in the lives and characters of Claire and Luke. In fact, I would like to presume that the screenplay allows us to directly immerse in the mind of Claire, feeling what she feels amidst her youthful vibe and the dull setting: anxious and curious.
Striking about the movie is how it perfectly fits both the articles of Noel Carroll and Linda Williams, pertaining to curiosity and gender respectively. The movie perfectly shows how we, as humans, are naturally curious especially to things that do not fit within our normal categories and aim to make the unknown known to us, in this case the paranormal. Like Claire, we too felt a “detective-like” feel from the movie, curious to know more about what happened to Madeline O’Malley and the paranormal occurrences in the hotel even if it elicited fright and horror within us. We also realize that Claire goes to the extreme to satisfy her naturally curious disposition, going too far that even the audience see themselves literally shouting off their seats for her not to go any further down the basement. She even goes against the stern warning from the psychic Leanne Rease-Jones to run away, eventually resulting to her death. Going to Linda William’s article on gender and the gaze, we see how Claire, in confrontation with the monster, is eventually punished for her naturally curious disposition by getting killed in the end.
However, there is still hope for man as seen in Claire. Told to flee the premises right away, Claire goes out of her way to the third floor to warn the old man who just checked in that day. This small act in the film personally goes a long way for it shows that the selfishness of man to protect his own life is overrun by a sense of responsibility and humanity, especially in the case of Claire.
The film is one of the more conventional horror films that we have watched in class, owing to the fact that it falls perfectly aligned to our discussions of horror. Nevertheless, the film made me understand deeper the natural curiosity innate in man by being put in Claire’s shoes and allowing the movie to take me where it wants me to go. While the ending is somehow depressing, especially owing to the fact that Claire eventually gets killed for her quest to know the unknown, it nonetheless gives me an important life-lesson (it’s hard to imagine horror, of all genres, giving you a life-lesson) that is hard to forget: be careful what you wish for.