24. The Innkeepers
Director: Ti West
Stars: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, George Riddle, Lena Dunham, Brenda Cooney
Don’t underestimate the charms of a simple, old-fashioned ghost story. Inspired by his actual experiences inside the film’s setting, Torrington, Connecticut’s allegedly haunted Yankee Pedlar Inn, independent writer-director Ti West tapped into vintage Charles Dickens-esque ghost stories to make The Innkeepers, an engrossing concoction of slacker comedy and campfire tale.
Lead actress Sara Paxton and Pat Healy complement each other quite well as a couple of bored Yankee Pedlar employees passing the time before the hotel’s out-of-business closing by investigating whatever paranormal occurrences they can uncover. With equipment straight out of Ghost Hunters, they seek out any signs of Madeleine O’Malley, a jilted bride who, back in the 1800s, hung herself in a room on the top floor.
Favoring character over cheap scares, West saves the white-knuckle moments for the film’s second half, spending the first 40-some-odd minutes of The Innkeepers letting his chief protagonist (Paxton) earn the viewers’ goodwill. So when the shit hits the fan, we’re rooting for her, not voluntarily signing her death certificate.