As was made painfully evident in the beginning of the movie, “The Innkeepers” took a long time to heat up. One could easily see this as a bad thing – a boring thing – as I did in the beginning. It seemed a tad too draggy and a lot of scenes seemed to be created just to delay the actual ghost-sitings as much as possible. This honestly frustrated me a lot in the beginning of the movie because I wanted the hook, I wanted to know just what was going to happen already.
Then I realized that the manner at which the story was told was essential to what the movie was trying to make us feel – impatient yet still afraid of every turn, restless but curious. If one were to really analyse the plot of the movie, it is simple. During the final days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees, both ghost-hunting enthusists, set out to reveal the inn’s haunted past which includes the mystery of scorned Madelline O’Malley. A plot such as this could have been played out in 30 minutes or less. Cut out all seemingly unnecessary scenes – when Claire mistook Luke for a ghost one night, when Claire spoke to Leann Rease-Jones in her room, when Luke ran away only to return to the Inn, etc – and anyone would have still been able to tell this story. After further reflection, however, one realizes that this kind of pacing was necessary in creating the tension and curiosity that the makers desired of the audience. It was about creating an atmosphere of tension within the movie so that the audience would feel the same tension, the same desire for answers, the same level of curiosity as Claire.
It was also interesting to note that the character of Claire, greatly differs from many horror movie protagonist. First, she was a woman. As discussed by Sir in class and in Linda William’s article found in the Film Reader, rarely are women ever the active movers in horror movies. As Williams mentions when talking about the active gaze, women are refused this gaze of activity or control and punished if they try. The fact that Claire was the one who was more determined to make contact with Madelline, that she was the one who remained in the Inn while Luke fleed, that she was the one who always actively pursued her curiosity in the face of danger, and that Luke was admittedly helpless to save Claire as she pounded on the door for her life all point to Claire as being the atypical portrayal of a female horror character. She could have even been seen as the most so-called “masculine” of the lot. It was only at the end when her curiosity and perseverance eventually led her to her death, did it revert to the typical portrayal of women as punished for their gaze, for their activity. Despite this, however, as a woman, the character of Claire is significant in terms of seeing that horror can see women as more than just a character to be victimized or subjugated but one strong enough to drive the entire plot of the movie, whilst keeping you interested in what other norms she’s gonna break in the process.