Curiosity killed the Cat–innkeepers

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The Innkeepers is a horror film that is about two employees Claire and Luke who are working at the Yankee Peddler Inn that is rarely visited by guests. It is a very simple movie with just the inn as its setting, a few characters and a plain plot. I never really enjoyed the movie until the latter parts for which the ghost of Madeline started appearing. For the earlier parts, there is too much talking that I fell asleep.  For the latter parts it gets exciting where the movie captures more of its audience and let’s you want to scare the hell out of you.

 

It started with Luke showing this video with a zombie at the end frightening Claire. I know that something was going to pop out so I prepared not to be scared by it. Luke also showed Claire his website that he made to attract people to go to the inn. The website also contained the history and some of the mystery that happened in the inn. Luke told Claire that he once saw a ghost named Madeline.  Claire got curious so she went on asking Luke. Claire ended up investigating about Madeline and the more she put it in her head, the more the ghost seemed to haunt her. Claire also experienced weird events within the inn that made her thoughts on Madeline to be stronger and belief that she really exists. Claire liked to reach Madeline and wanted to confront her and know what was the reason that she seemed to still show and haunt people in the inn. Strangely, it was only Claire who felt and saw the spirit of Madeline. One night, Luke and Claire got nothing to do so they decided to drink beer and when they were already drunk, the feelings of Luke for Claire popped out. He told her that he likes her. But for Claire it was just okay and she didn’t put her attention to it. Then she thought that they should go to the basement to see Madeline. Luke agreed to her. They went down but when it got scary, Luke ditched Claire and decided to go home. He also said that he really never saw Madeline. Claire was told to go away from the basement because she might put her life to risk. She sought help with a psychic who is a guest in the inn. She also told Claire that there’s a great danger ahead so they need to leave the inn. But it seemed that Claire was not scared of things so she want back thinking that the psychic was down the basement. The ghost of Madeline haunted her.  At the end, she just died.

 

The movie used the concept of gaze well. It showed that Claire was curious on seeing the ghost of Madeline but at the end, it was her who was gazed upon by the ghost and died. Like most horror movies, it used the women representation of the victim and men are the ones that seem to have logic reasoning. Luke warned Claire not to go further but Claire didn’t listen so what happened to her was the consequence of her actions. The movie played well with the audience’s emotions at the end where there are camera effects that were slow as if wanting to see the ghost then it shocked the audience where the ghost suddenly appears.

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Curious Claire

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The Innkeepers is a very simple movie, the setting is such a simple confined space, and the plot is straightforward. It feels like such a low-budget indie movie, but it works well because of its play on the gaze. Throughout the film, the camera angles are effectively timed and shot to strike tension and fear for the viewer. It plays on the fear of the things you can’t see. They’re looking for the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, they want to contact her to find out what she wants, what she’s still doing there in the building. The main character, Claire, actively pursues the cause of the paranormal activities in the inn, sometimes recklessly so. We see other people trying their best to stop Claire from doing this, saying that she should stop poking her head in things that she doesn’t fully understand.

We see in The Innkeepers the usual images of men and women in horror films. Men usually seen as the logical ones, while the women are those who are simply too curious for their own good. Luke tries to stop Claire from pursuing this paranormal force in the inn even though he was the one who instigated her to actively pursue it. Claire out of curiosity pursues this force as the viewers cringe on her recklessness while doing this. Also, seeing the psychic healer who coincidentally looks like a lesbian, was sort of curious and still rational. She wanted to understand why Claire wanted to find out the secrets of the inn, first she tried to stop her, then she ended up trying to help her. At the end of the movie it was implied that the psychic knew what was going to happen to Claire yet she didn’t do anything about it. She said that there was nothing they could do. I guess it was smart of the psychic to stay away when she knew all her cards were up. Claire on the other hand kept going and going until, as the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat.

I love how the movie really built up the scenes where they were actively looking for Madeline O’Malley. The blind angles, the tense build ups, along with the sound, really made the viewers dread was was going to happen next. Though the old man bit was quite predictable, the lead up to the discovery of what he did was quite tense. The film makers play with the viewers’ emotions, we see in the closing of the movie, with the long pause as the camera sort of stares in the room. It is sort of a metaphor on how Claire seeks to look for the “monster”, but in the end, the seeker gets a shock as it gets what it wants. Just as in the end of the movie, we were expecting something to happen in the last part. We were expecting the ghost of Madeline O’Malley to pop up or maybe the ghost of Claire, we knew we were going to get a final fright and boom, it ended with us getting what we wanted, which is exactly what happened to Claire.

The Innkeepers: The Gaze of Women

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“The Innkeepers” is a horror film about Claire and Luke, two employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn who experience peculiar events and attempt to discover more about the secrets of the hotel’s haunted past. Although it was obviously a low budget and independent film, I honestly enjoyed watching it since it was directed and produced excellently as demonstrated by the special effects used. Initially, I have already heard about the film but I never really attempted to watch it by myself especially at night since seeing the movie poster alone was horrifying. Believe it or not, “The Innkeepers” was just the second film next to “Rec” that gave me a good scare in which I had difficulties discarding it from my thoughts. I believe it presented the horror film effectively to the point that I even recommended it to some of my friends to give them goosebumps as well. From the numerous reactions of the class, I thought that the movie was very well received by its audience.

It seemed as if the film was divided into two parts. The first part began at a really slow pace with a series of scenes which made an effort to startle the audience but unfortunately did not work on me. I liked the fact that the first half involved some humorous scenes rather than immediately inducing fear into its audience. I believe these were probably made in preparation for the second half or the final few minutes of the movie which were exceptionally frightening. It was the final week of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, and Claire and Luke were initially introduced as ghost enthusiasts who were interested in the mystery of the ghost of Madeline O’Malley, a bride who committed suicide after her husband left her. An old woman named Leanne who turned out to be a psychic then checked in the hotel and the plot eventually builds up as Claire experienced paranormal activity. One instance was when the piano played by itself while she recorded EVPs in various locations around the hotel. The second part of the film started as soon as an unusual old man checked in and asked for a room on the third floor of the hotel. Even though Leanne warned Claire to avoid the basement, they did otherwise and as a result, they came across some paranormal activity. Claire claimed to see the ghost of Madeline O’Malley causing Luke to leave the hotel. Leanne also said that they needed to leave the hotel immediately so Claire rushed to the third floor but saw the body of the old man covered with blood in the bathtub. In the end, Claire encountered several apparitions of the old man and Madeline O’Malley, being trapped in the basement and dying of an asthma attack.

Similar to the other movies watched in class, a feeling of entrapment was clearly present particularly in the latter parts of the film such as when Claire was cornered by the ghost of Madeline O’Malley in the basement. In accordance to our discussion, women were also portrayed as the most effective representation of fear as seen in the character of Claire. It was very strange that only the woman (Claire) claimed to see the ghost but the man (Luke) didn’t. Moreover, the victimization and particularization of women were evident throughout the movie. Claire was not allowed to be normal in the film and she never really played an important role. She was someone looked at by the “monster” or the ghost, and she unknowingly just died in the end. Finally, the film wished to leave its audience with the significant message that the gaze of women, which is directly the result of their natural curiosity to gaze upon the unusual, may have its detrimental and unfavourable consequences.

The Innkeepers

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After watching the film, “The Innkeepers”, I was reminded of the reason why I rarely watch horror films. Some of the previous films shown in class were actually scary. These films had numerous scenes that really terrified me; however the feeling of fear only lasted for a few seconds. It was very different when we watched “The Innkeepers” in the sense that the feeling of fear lasted longer. At the beginning of the film, Luke asked Claire to watch a video of a haunting which in reality was just a prank. The camera focused on the laptop screen and all of a sudden, a creepy face pops out. The scene was very surprising but it was not scary at all. A few scenes later, Claire hears a weird sound. As she was looking for the source of the sound, she approaches a room and then Luke suddenly speaks out of nowhere. The scene, like the first one mentioned, was also surprising but not in any way scary. Later on, as Claire was taking the trash out, she hears a banging sound from the hotel’s basement. She opens the door and there was a moment of silence. A bird suddenly flies out which was once again very surprising. To me, the start of the film, having a lot of “fake” scares, was very effective since it allows the really scary scenes to catch us off-guard. Following this scene, Claire was shown recording EVPs in different locations in the hotel. She hears the piano playing and as she approaches it, the camera zooms in to the piano and we hear a sound as if someone banged the piano. After this scene, the film started to get really scary and as I mentioned earlier, it gave of a feeling of fear and horror that sticks with you for quite some time. There were two scenes that were especially scary to me. First was the scene wherein the blanket rises and the ghost of Madeline O’Malley appears underneath it. Second was the scene in which the old man appears behind Claire as she is going down the basement. These two scenes made me feel absolutely horrified to the point that I was still haunting me at night. I found it hard to get out of my room at night because I was afraid that there might be someone or something behind me. I did not want to look at mirrors because I feared that I might see someone behind me. I was scared of opening my eyes when I was already in bed because someone might suddenly appear beside me. After watching the film, I was reminded that the reason why I do not watch horror films often was that it haunts me at night. The film, although being absolutely scary, was quite boring majority of the time. The exciting part only starts at around the last 30 minutes of the film. Prior to that, the film was long and dragging. The plot was very predictable and it did not have a good twist. Overall, I liked the film since towards the end, it becomes really fun and scary to watch.

 

Chewing more than you can swallow

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Is there anything exciting about manning the front desk of a hotel? Perhaps the first few weeks the variety of guests coming in and out would be an entertaining sight. After that, small conversations with the guests are enough to get you through each day. What if you were given the graveyard shift? The only action you see would probably be drunken people needing help or sleepless guests requesting for more blankets. In The Innkeepers, Claire and Luke fight boredom by searching for ghosts of the inn where they work which has been in existence since the 19th century and said to be haunted by a certain Madeline O’ Malley who hanged herself after her husband left her. The progression of the story was slow but Luke lightened it up with his quirky statements while Claire amused us by talking about random stuff and ogling at her favorite actress.

                 The story finally progresses when one of Luke’s ghost detecting instruments pick up piano music coming from the lobby. The story is nothing new but the way that it was presented was really the defining quality of the movie. I found myself looking away or closing my eyes at a film whose ghost appears only thrice during the entire 90 minutes of its screening. Looking back, the movie’s score and cinematography was an assault to the senses. The music and slow camera movement made us expect something when in fact nothing was there. When the real ghost appeared, the camera takes a long while to pan away so that the viewers could examine it in all its grisly glory. This brings out the fact that given the proper circumstances, the senses can be fooled without anything being actually shown. While I felt cheated by being scared of the presentation quality rather than the ghosts themselves, that feeling of dread was exhilarating for a horror movie fan like me.  When the actress turned psychic made the prediction about the 3 spirits present at the inn, she was actually talking about Claire, the old man and Madeline O’ Malley. The sad thing about this whole story was the fact that the incident had to happen a week before the inn would be closed down after many years of no paranormal activity. If Claire and Luke only minded their own business, the story would not have played out like it did even if the old man had committed suicide.

                Claire and Luke are like two types of horror movie fans. Luke is the one who claims to be knowledgeable in the field yet did not have the courage to satisfy his curiosity when something supernatural is actually happening while Claire is the inquisitive one who wants to know the truth even if it kills her. Why did I say this about Claire? She really had no reason to go back down to the basement after seeing the corpse of the old man and the ghost of Madeline O’ Malley. The psychic even warned her not to go there or something bad might happen. So why did she go anyway? That is the million dollar question. Perhaps she thought nothing exciting would ever happen to her mundane life again or her curiosity far outweighed her fear at that point in time. No matter what the reason was, I think it is safe to say that if we placed ourselves in her position and disregarded what we had seen as viewers of the movie, we would have had taken different actions depending on what our personality was.        

The Innkeepers

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Slow paced movies have to have a good enough plot to keep the viewers hooked.You have to take into consideration the dialogue and if the actors are good enough to play the boring part well etc etc. I think the horror film has an advantage when it comes to being slow paced, because the audience is always anticipating an extreme change of pace whenever the scene gets too silent, too boring or too “not scary”, that expectation is part of the horror. What i realized upon watching this film is that the viewers play a big part on scaring themselves.

As was mentioned in class, the Innkeepers has nothing special about its plot, nothing original, something that was probably used a couple dozen times already. In truth, i don’t even remember what the ghost or whoever they were running from looked like. But despite this mundane or not-so-memorable-ness off the movie, I have to admit that I enjoyed it and even half covered my eyes in some parts.

It was mentioned in class that if the camera was in the point of view of the female, the movie almost automatically becomes scarier because of the stereotypical helplessness of a woman. Be it in the eyes of the man on the other hand, makes it less frightening because the man is supposedly able to defend himself more than a woman can. This theory completely shatters in the male and female characters of the movie because Claire seemed to have more balls than Luke which got her into more trouble in the end.

The fact that Claire died in the end made me realize that despite her character being the manlier and braver one she still ended up being the victim. No matter what part the woman plays, either the damsel in distress or the tough “i don’t need a man to save me” type, in the end of almost every horror film, they are always the “funner” victims. I don’t know if it’s because of the  high pitched scream or the fact that they are biologically less likely to survive against something physically stronger, females being chased to their deaths are always almost a staple in horror movies.

In the end, I do not know what killed Claire, maybe her paranoia and curiosity got the best of her and ended up killing herself. But the not knowing part is (in my opinion) what made the movie enjoyable.

Thoughts about “The Innkeepers”

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The idea that I usually attribute to a gaze is curiosity. Whenever a person gazes at someone or something, to me this usually implies deep interest or fascination towards that which is gazed upon. So, to use this term to analyse horror movies, specifically the part in every viewing where the victim supposedly “gazes upon” the monster first confused me. I initially thought that this term was was inapplicable. Aren’t people supposed to generally feel fear towards monsters?

Before I learned about Linda Williams’ article about the woman-monster connection in horror films, it never occurred to me before that a woman gazing upon a monster could imply other things besides either a feeling of shock or horror. I don’t think that anybody could think about fear-conquering or submission when they come face to face with a monster. I remember stories of people freezing at their alleged ghost encounters, trying to look away but they couldn’t out of the sheer shock and fear they’ve experienced, and I could imagine finding myself in a similar situation given the chance. I therefore acknowledged every horror movie’s monster-gazing moments back then more as a reaction rather than an action. So, when I first saw The Innkeepers (this was before I attended horror film classes), I quickly dismissed it as nothing more than a simple and traditional ghost story.

Yet the minor details there make the movie complex and delightful. Rarely do we ever see women in horror movies being portrayed as the kind who are interested in, and in the case of this movie, obsessed with, monsters. Claire, the female protagonist, is different from the usual woman shown in most horror movies. She’s the kind who doesn’t enjoy girl-to-girl chatting and gossiping, she would rather hang out with guys and talk about ghosts. She’s the kind who gets scared, just like everybody else, but doesn’t cry or cuddle up in a corner or grab the nearest guy’s arm to bury her face on; even if she was asthmatic she could carry on by herself. On the other hand we have Luke, our male protagonist, the kind of guy who is nice and all but is weak and wimpy. We can say that even if he lied about his ghostly encounters, he’s still a guy that can be interested in paranormal stuff, except he couldn’t own up to it unlike Claire. Later on in the movie we are revealed to this somewhat reversal of roles. To me, Claire turned out to be more the traditional man than the traditional woman, and Luke the other way around.

The scene that intrigued me the most with relation to the Linda Williams article was the part where Claire and Luke went to the basement, where Claire supposedly sees the ghost of Madelyn but Luke couldn’t turn around to see it as well. Luke, the one who is supposed to be the man in the film, was supposed to see the ghost first along with the audience. Instead, Claire, the supposed woman in the film, sees it first, and the audience never got to see the ghost there. Luke was the one who became paralyzed and eventually ran away like a little sissy. Claire, in her final moments, gazed upon the ghost but never submitted to it unlike the traditional horror movie woman. What I took from that experience was that we were being told that what we understood about the female (or male) gaze was wrong, we do not truly understand. The film was telling us that, the truth of the matter is, the female gaze isn’t so different from the male gaze, and it shouldn’t be. Both of them are open to the supposed exclusive traits of men and women, knowing that exhibiting manliness does not actually require a person to be male as well as exhibiting womanliness does not actually require a person to be female.