#1: The Innkeepers 2011 Dir. Ti West
The Yankee Pedlar Inn is a historical, and supposedly haunted, New England hotel. It is currently staffed by only two people who are keeping an eye on the place for their vacationing boss. The hotel contains only three guests, and after this weekend it will close it's doors forever. The Innkeepers takes what is well covered ground and spends the majority of the movie playing on our growing affection for our main character, Claire, played by Sara Paxton. Claire and Luke, her only other coworker, have been asked to simply hold down the fort and we see real people emerge in these two characters. We feel like we know them and when they talk to each other, our pathos empathy toward them grows. I don't want to spend too much time discussing the non-horror moments, but it is these character driven scenes that make the scary parts really pop. The fright in this film is used effectivley in tandem with propper build up, and like director Ti West's previous work, House of the Devil, most of the film builds to the last act, layering the mundania of the night shift with humor and little bits of ghostly terror. What impresses me most about this film is the lack of "jump scare" moments. while there are a few, this movie relies heavily on the creeping dread of the inevitable, and it is this approach to storytelling that created the most terrifying moment of the film for me. A moment that terrified me to my very core but surprisingly showed no ghosts. the terror in this film takes you back to the ghost stories you heard as a child and blend that fear with the day to day. I can honestly recommend The Innkeepers as one of the best modern horror movies I've seen in a long time, it features memorable characters, a simple plot and a steady, methodical build to a thoughtful climax.