Right as The Innkeepers begins, you’re given a pretty good life tip: if you enter a spooky place and all of the colors in that spooky place are muted, GET OUT OF THAT SPOOKY PLACE! Nothing good has ever come with colors being less saturated than they should be. Oh, if only our precious innkeepers Claire and Luke knew the thing about muted colors. It could have saved them (and by “them” I mean Claire) (fucking Luke, man!) (don’t even get me started on Luke) a lot of trouble. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The Innkeepers, from director Ti West, is about two employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn on its last open weekend after over a century of what I have to image was, for the most part, very unsettling service. (It’s a very spooky hotel.) I had not seen The Innkeepers before this viewing, but I had seen Ti West’s The House of the Devil, which I liked very much and recommend. (The characters in The House of the Devil would have also been better off knowing the muted colors rule.) It looked great in the same way that this looked great and seemed classic in the way this seemed classic and featured a pretty girl + a female indie sensation in the same way that this one featured a pretty girl + a female indie sensation. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not know that Lena Dunham was in this movie until she, as Hannah Horvath, popped up in this movie.) (Hahah.) (Hi, Lena!) Anyway, let’s TALK ABOUT THIS SPOOKFEST! I liked it a lot!

The thing about this movie is that it doesn’t REALLY get scary until the very end. Until then it’s spooky (like how ghost hunting shows are usually spooky even when it’s like, you KNOW they aren’t finding any ghosts in there) but not really scary. Midway through I even got a little bit mad that I wasn’t scared enough yet. True, I was alone in the dark in my apartment, my heart racing with every house noise, afraid to go into the kitchen because it was even darker in there, but I wasn’t scared ENOUGH.

Most of the early scary parts are fake-outs. Luke fakes-out Claire with one of those early-Internet “stare at this image for 30 seconds” or whatever startling ghost scream videos. Luke creeps up behind Claire while Claire is investigating a noise, and she screams. Another noise gets investigated and turns out to be a bird. An old lady comes in to stay at the hotel — making her only the second guest at the hotel, if we count the unsettling mother and son team as one guest, which we will — and I think, “Oh my god are they trying to make that seem like Dame Judi Dench?” and then Claire says “Do you know who that is?!” and I think that they really ARE going to act like it’s Dame Judi Dench, which would make me such a genius, but then it’s just a fake actress named Leanne Rease-Jones. Lots of fake-outs.

But while we’re wandering through the fake-outs, we get to know our innkeepers. Claire is an adorable Rory Gilmore type, and Luke is a guy who looks kind of like Scott from Stereogum and who is in love with Claire, because who wouldn’t be. She’s adorable. Luke is working on a website (classic Scott from Stereogum) about the hauntings he’s documented at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, and it looks terrible (not classic Scott from Stereogum).

Hahaha. Claire tells him it “looks great,” which is A LIE, CLAIRE, and then Luke says, “it’s not the most professional, but it’s not bad,” which is also a lie. It is that bad. Just buy some webspace and have it redirect to your tumblr, Luke. Claire leaves to get a coffee from Lena Dunham, but Lena Dunham is so annoying that Claire comes back without her coffee. CAH-LASSIC. “Is that annoying girl still there?” Luke asks. “Yes.” “What a failblog.” “Epic.” Hahah. This movie is great.

Another thing we learn about our innkeepers is that they are very bad at their jobs. Luke forgets to provide anyone with towels when they literally have two guests, and Claire tells the CHILD who is staying there with his mom the legend of Madeline O’Malley, the ghost that apparently haunts the hotel after killing herself there, whom Claire and Luke are attempting to contact. Claire! Come on, Claire. Get it together, you’re at work.

The real spooky stuff starts when Claire goes off on her own the record some ghosts. She first goes to some spooky room and is like, “Ah, there are no ghosts here,” which I find incredible. If I went to ANY spooky room alone, LET ALONE A SPOOKY ROOM IN A HAUNTED HOTEL, there is no way I wouldn’t be 100% sure that there were ghosts there. “There are definitely ghosts here, I need to get out right now,” is what I’d say. But, undeterred, Claire heads to the banquet hall where she DOES hear something — a ghostly piano, playing by its ghostly self. She follows the noise to the piano room but when she gets there, no one is there. AH! Except when she gets really close to the keys (DON’T GET REALLY CLOSE TO THE KEYS, CLAIRE!), some of the keys press down and make a loud noise! AHHHH! CLAAAAIRE!

She, bad at her job, runs screaming into the hallway of one of her (two) guests. Hahah. CLAIRE, COME ON. It’s the room of Leanne Rease-Jones, who invites her in, gives her vodka, and tells her that she’s a psychic medium and to DEFINITELY NOT GO INTO THE BASEMENT. Claire asks her if the ghost she just saw was Madeline’s, and all the spirits say in return is, “You can’t save her, they tried to warn her, they tried to help her.” Eeeeep! Claire! JUST GO HOME, CLAIRE! WHO CARES ABOUT THIS JOB, AT THE VERY LEAST THE HOTEL IS FULL OF INSANE PEOPLE, IF NOT EVEN GHOSTS, JUST GO HOME!

When Claire tries to tell Luke about her findings, he all of the sudden doesn’t care about ghosts anymore. What? Luke. You made a whole geocities website about finding ghosts in the hotel, what’s your god damn deal? One in a seemingly neverending series of incidents that make me not like Luke. Next: A person with 100% the most terrifying voice you have ever heard attempts to check into the hotel — “Yes, I’d like a room for the night please. I’d like room 353 please.” They hold off on revealing what he looks like for a very long time so it’s like, what, is he going to be a ghost?! IS HE GOING TO BE A GHOST?! But he isn’t a ghost. He’s just an old man. They tell him he can’t have the third floor because all of those rooms have been stripped, as the Inn is closing in two days, but Claire offers him the room as long as he’s willing to dress the bed himself. He is very grateful. Luke tells him he needs a credit card, and the old man hands him a wad of money and says “Take this…please,” and he’s suddenly the most endearing character of all time and all you want to do is help him.

There’s a very funny fake-out with him, too (you think he disappears but then, oh, he didn’t), and he says some spooky shit about how being back in the room he spent his honeymoon in “feels like you never left — almost like you’re right at home — don’t you think?” but let’s come back to him later.

So, Luke loves Claire and tells her after they drink a few beers. He says she’s one of the “prettiest girls [he] know[s],” and she says “WHO ARE THE OTHERS!!” and it’s adorable. She is just a peach. He tells her that he thinks they really mesh well and I’m like, uh, yeah I’m pretty sure she would mesh well with anyone? She’s great. A+ for Claire. But, even though he is in love with her, and even though he runs a fucking GHOST WEBSITE, Luke is still hesitant about gathering ghost evidence with her. He does it anyway, though, kind of.

Until she tells him that she can see a spirit behind him and he freaks out, runs away, and LEAVES HER AT THE HOTEL ALONE. WHAT?!?!?!? LUKE, YOU PIECE OF SHIT! You just told her that you liked her and now you’re abandoning her because she saw a ghost? You jerk! Oh, but I thought you had a whole website about ghosts? OH, THE WHOLE WEBSITE IS FAKE, YOU TELL CLAIRE? NONE OF IT IS REAL? AND ACTUALLY YOU ARE VERY AFRAID OF GHOSTS, ENOUGH TO STRAND THE GIRL OF YOUR DREAMS AT A HOTEL WITH THEM? Oh, I hate you, Luke. It makes sense that you have a Grateful Dead sticker on your car.

So, Claire goes back to Leanne Rease-Jones’s room and they both go into the basement together. Then Leanne Rease-Jones’s crystal drops and shatters and SHE runs away, telling Claire that they both have to leave the hotel immediately. Claire is gathering her things, when she remembers about the old man. Oh, god damnit, old man! So she goes to his room…and finds a suicide note. Then she opens his bathroom door…and finds him dead in LITERALLY THE BLOODIEST SUICIDE TUB I HAVE EVER SEEN PORTRAYED IN ANY MEDIUM. I WILL NOT PUT AN IMAGE OF IT HERE, I REFUSE, BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO TRUST ME. AND THEN SHE SEES THE SUICIDE BRIDE (LESS REALISTIC) IN THE NEXT ROOM!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

She runs downstairs where fucking Luke is waiting for her, and she tells him that they both need to get out of there immediately. Instead of letting her leave, AFTER HE SO EASILY LET HIMSELF LEAVE NOT TOO LONG AGO, he makes her stand there while he stutters and says nothing, and then tells her to wait in the lobby while he goes and gets Lee. WHAT?! TAKE HER TO THE CAR AND HAVE HER WAIT IN YOUR CAR, YOU ASSHOLE! While he is gone, Claire hears a noise and gets up to investigate, which is admittedly her fault. Girl. You sit right in that lobby and you wait for those people to come back and ALLOW you to leave, since apparently you need to be ALLOWED.

“Lee?” she keeps asking as she walks towards the basement. “Leeee?” Oh, you think it’s Lee? The woman who just ran out of the basement screaming that you both needed to leave the hotel right away? That’s who you think is in the basement? She opens a fucking creaky-ass door to the basement. “LEE?” GIRL. IT’S NOT LEE.

Then.

OH.

MY.

GOD!

NOOOO IT’S SUICIDE MAN STANDING RIGHT BEHIND HER!!!! Claire sees him, falls down the steps, and then runs FURTHER INTO THE BASEMENT?! CLAIRE! USE YOUR BRAIN, GIRL! She has pretty much stopped using her brain entirely, though, as she then runs into the tiniest, scariest room there is, and locks herself in there. What? Claire. If it’s a ghost, you KNOW that ghost is going to walk right through the door and into your terrifying hiding place. She tries to get through the door to the outside, but it is locked from the outside. Then, oh god, the bride appears behind her. With a bloody face, she screams and screams, and then THAT IS THE END.

EXCEPT IT ISN’T.

The real end comes next. You see a body being wheeled out of the hotel and you think, “oh no, is it her? or is it suicide old man? oh no,” and then you see that it’s a girl with blonde hair and it is her and oooohh noooo! OUR GIRL! SHE’S DEAD AND IT’S ALL THAT MOTHERFUCKER LUKE’S FAULT! TAKE HIM TO JAIL, COPS! Luke explains to the cops that he found her inhaler (Claire uses her inhaler in the first scene, so you just know that Claire is going to die when either her inhaler runs out or she loses her inhaler. I wish brains didn’t put those things together as much as writers planning surprises wish that brains didn’t put those things together, BUT THEY DO.) and heard her screaming, but was too weak to break down the door. Ugh. Luke. Do NOT give me another reason to dislike you.

He does give you another reason to dislike him, though, when he says to Lee, “You knew this was going to happen, did you? You could’ve done something.” UH, YEAH SHE DID TRY TO DO SOMETHING, WHEN SHE LITERALLY SAID TO CLAIRE THAT THEY HAD TO LEAVE THE HOTEL IMMEDIATELY! REMEMBER WHEN CLAIRE TOLD YOU THAT SHE NEEDED TO LEAVE THE HOTEL IMMEDIATELY, LUKE? REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAID TO HER?! YOU KILLED OUR BABY! LUKE! YOU KILLED OUR PERFECT CLAIRE!

It ends on Claire’s room. The camera rests there for a moment, and then — SLAM! (The door slams.) Claire is locked forever in her dead-end hotel job, and it is all that coward Luke’s fault. Fucking Luke.

Comments (57)
  1. Is Stereogum haunted?

  2. My fav part of Luke’s website was the caption under the image of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1. Like he couldn’t edit that 1 out of there.

  3. Can we still make suggestions? Because I think Kelly should go ghost hunting for real and write about it. Or at least a book-ghost hunter.

    • For real. I would get behind that! Or Kelly can join Flanny and I when we go check out the Lizzie Borden house later this month! Spoiler: Flanny says it’s super creepy! I can’t wait!!

      • Oh shit, son, it’s a fucking spook-fest.

      • You guys BE CAREFUL because Fall River is for real a place where bad things happen. Nothing good has ever happened in Fall River. Tell a loved one you are going first. ALSO if you want to check out a kind of creepy place near Boston, I suggested hiking around Dogtown, MA. Go early enough, though b/c you WILL get lost and then all the sudden the sun will start setting.

        • That sounds almost TOO real….we were just going to do Fall River one day and high tail it safely back home.

        • Don’t I know it! I went to The 99 in Fall River and the chicken fingers were sub-par! No seriously, that town is so scary. And Artdork and I are currently driving to Dogtown because that place sounds amazing.

    • I’m going ghost hunting this weekend (or possibly next weekend)!! If Kelly doesn’t write about it (KELLY, YOU SHOULD WRITE ABOUT IT!), hopefully I will have an anecdote or two — and evidence. They suggest you bring cameras to capture the orbs and possible spirits haunting the tunnels and stuff. Also warm socks, probably because of shoe ghosts.

  4. this movie could have just been an hour and fourty minutes of the scene with claire attempting to take out the trash and it would have won every award at the seventy-eighth annual father timey’s. as it is: still pretty good! it was a liiitle predictable, and i could have done with about five hundred percent less claire dying, but i still really enjoyed it.

  5. I didn’t see the door slam because I was too scared and turned it off because I knew something was going to happen and I need to sleep in my creepy old haunted murder house all by myself and I do NOT need any more lingering images in my head when I do so.

    Also though, I said out loud to the cat “So, do you think the ghosts are stealing the towels?”

    • Chekov’s towels, over here. I NEED A RESOLUTION ON THOSE TOWELS.

    • I didn’t see any of the scary parts because I watch scary movies by playing iphone games during any and all spookiness/stress and by putting my hand up in front of the screen, with very small cracks between my fingers so I can just see colors, during any and all grossness/monsters.

      There was a scene later in the movie (a not-spooky scene) where Claire needed towels and didn’t have any, so I assume the ghosts did indeed steal them. Ghosts are jerks.

  6. Great movie! And, if you haven’t, see Ti West’s previous film The House of the Devil!

  7. I got desensitized to scary movies when I was little, back when me and my cousins would marathon Freddy Krueger movies back to back and that human centipede/saw thing just ain’t my bag, but I like this, mainly because it was kind of just a romantic comedy with a scary ending. And even then, the most scary part was the fake-out website thing.
    My question is, why wasn’t Scott more upset with her death? The movie spends most of the time building up their relationship until then throws it all away by making him not even that disturbed by it. Is it that once you put ghosts in your movie everything else doesn’t matter? Seems to me, the movie would’ve been more enjoyable with a more ambiguous ending, where you don’t know if the ghost killed Rory or it was just a panic-induced asthma attack. And I should know, I have a license to comment on pop culture websites.

    • Maybe he was still in shock?

      • Could be, but he ran away like an Abott and Costello Meet the Frankenstein when Rory told him she saw a ghost, then has no reaction when she sees her corpse. IDK, I ain’t no psychiatrist, I’m just saying the movie didn’t seem to follow the same tone. shrug.emoticon.

  8. Hahaha, I def watched the last fifteen minutes of this movie with my back to the screen while I looked at pictures of kittens on my phone.
    But really I liked this movie because it wasn’t a startle-fest like most scary movies I seem to watch, although, full-disclosure, the only scary movies I have watched to completion are the ones I suggested yesterday PLUS The Others. It was spooky and funny and atmospheric. I do like ghosts in old buildings. I do not like basements. I like Sara Paxton because she looks like my childhood best friend, so I especially did not like when she died.

  9. I watched Spooky Buddies last night and kind of really liked Pip, the friendly CGI ghost puppy.


    Then I saw his gravestone and it made me cry because the wording was very touching, especially for a fake CGI puppy ghost. I’m really glad that Kelly didn’t go with Spooky Buddies because just like the weird Santa Paws Buddies franchise spinoff, this got actually very sad for a little bit. (The Search for Santa Paws movie is really dark. Just trust me on that.) I also don’t understand why B-Dawg has tried to be a rapper puppy for like 8+ years and I have yet to see him record or release a demo. It’s just not going to work, B-Dawg. It just is not. Not if you don’t take the time to make the rap music.

    • This makes me regret not suggestion Casper, staring the most beautiful ghost of all time, Canada’s proudest export, Devon Sawa.

    • How is he still a puppy after 8+ years? Maybe each film directly follows the previous one, and it’s only been about a week or so.

    • That dog’s spirit was trapped between the torment of life and the nothingness of death.

    • Ghost puppy in itself makes me sad I could definitely not handle that gravestone, thank you for the warning because my son loves Halloween and wanted this movie…no thanks lol. I’d rather he keep on watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, I’ve come to the realization that since everybody in Halloweentown was born as a monster, etc. that Zero was always a ghost dog and was definitely never a living dog that died and became a ghost dog. So I am allowed to like him.

  10. As expected I did not watch this and will not be participating in your discussion. Enjoy, nitwits.

  11. I am so offended when people who share my name get mistreated/die in movies so I’m glad I didn’t watch this! #justiceforclaires

  12. Ghost towels aside, I really enjoyed this movie. It was quiet and built a lot of suspense before it showed you anything, which had me on edge for a lot of it, which is definitely a good thing!
    The musical score at the beginning sounded like a live-action Disney score, which lulled me into a false sense of “this movie isn’t going to be very scary, I bet”. And maybe it was the creepy old house that I watched it in, or the fact that I also have a murder basement, or the fact that before I started the movie I put something away in my perfectly normal room and then 15 mins in I went to get something else from my room and it was FULL OF FLIES*, but I was proper spooked by this.

    *I checked the attic for bodies this morning, because I was honestly concerned about where these flies came from and hadn’t seen my roommate for a few days, and I was seriously half convinced that he was dead up there but fuck if I’m going into that attic after dark and that is exactly what I would tell the police when they asked why I didn’t check when I first suspected. It turns out he had left dirty dishes in his room, which collected flies, which then were attracted to my room when I put the light on. Dishes cleaned, fly paper out, problem solved.

  13. Yo, what is the most scary moment in a non-scary movie or show? I vote the Halloween episode of Louie where he takes his kids trick or treating. That ish was genuinely disturbing.It’s very well paced and filled with realistic super scary stakes.

  14. I admit i had to watch something else to erase the lady’s face from my brain. (I watched the new East bound, I love danny mcbride)

  15. I expected the movie to be heavy-handed with the dynamic between Claire and Luke because that’s how it goes for nerdy guys in movies – he’d end up part of the creepiness, with like a Claire alter in his closet and a ghost BFF. When he was instead presented as sort of a rational human (he names his mom and sister as some of the prettiest women he knows, which was cute), I kinda warmed to the character. I mean, he was a big lying coward with bad web design, but I didn’t spend the hour+ hating his guts like Kelly apparently did.

    Otherwise, I was carefully not looking at the screen for most of the spooky and scary parts, so it was kinda a dull movie. I looked the actors up on IMDB, though. Claire looks very different without the big cloud of blonde hair and makeup she normally has on. The old non-Judy Dench lady was in Top Gun and the L Word and just came out as gay sort of recently. Luke is about as boring off-screen.

  16. guys i’m home alone watching the soup and eating scrambled eggs and my radio just turned on* by itself, please email the police and tell them my death was not an accident, i love you all.

    *my ipod unpaused itself from when i was listening to black sabbath vol. 4 while cooking the aforementioned scrambled eggs

  17. oh my goodness! i saw this movie last halloween and it is one of the worst movies i have ever seen! the scariest part about it was seeing the disparity between the careers of kelly mcgillis and tom cruise. he looks exactly the same as he did in top gun and she does not at all resemble charlie!

  18. I’m late to this because I was sick all day, but my opinions are still valid! This movie was like if someone saw The Shining and was like “Let’s just try to remake that!” But they didn’t have any good ideas except that Luke the creepo had the “itty bitty titty committee” porn page bookmarked on his computer. Also the “taking out the trash” scene was gold.

  19. Ha ha ha! Best analysis ever!

    - Pat ‘Luke Is a Piece of Shit’ Healy – Los Angeles, CA.

  20. This movie was a little bit too “jumpscary” for my taste. It starts with a jump scare and then a phone rings in a way it is not supposed to ring and then I fell asleep because no youngstero and she tries to open a door and the dude jumpscares her and then she wont shut up while she is going up the stairs and I was sleeping so peacefully and she pissed me off and I pressed the mute button.

  21. i recommend the next movie Tucker and Dale vs Evil

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