Sam Strange Remembers: THE INNKEEPERS

A horror film for people too wimpy for actual horror films.

There are a lot of people out there who want to watch horror films, but just can't handle any actual violence or intensity. These poor souls have to contend with media made for children such as Rstlne's Goosebumps novels or TV shows like Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark? (If you answered "Yes" to this question, they also cinematically soothed your fears with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and its DTV sequel, Seriously, It's Just a Bunch of Cute Little Guys.)

It must feel awful when you're a grown up and the only available horror that that you can actually watch was made for children. It's humiliating, like having to buy training bras for your actual bra or using those weird finger condoms made for money counting as actual condoms. Maybe God gave you the anatomy of a child, but Goddammit, that doesn't mean you should have to watch horror films like one.

So I gift these people with a horror film all their own called The Innkeepers. It should supply everything you need to say you watched an adult horror film without actually supplying the horror film. You're welcome. To everyone else, I made this film for twelve dollars so I can afford to tell you to piss off. Go have sex or eat sugar or sleep without a nightlight or whatever it is non-chickenshits do.

So The Innkeepers is about an old inn filled with one ghost. Don't worry, you don't see her for a long time. The Inn is almost completely resident free, so it's about to close forever. Two workers are sharing front desk duties during its last open weekend. To be cute, they're actually going to sleep at the hotel, too. But not together.

One of the workers is a twelve year old girl played by Rory Gilmore in a blonde wig. She's tricked people into believing she's sixteen because of her height, but she is in every way possible a twelve year old girl.

With her is a thirty year old guy played by Rafe Spall with a haircut that illustrates why a live action Tintin movie would have been a bad idea. This guy tricks people into believing he's twenty-one due to his outfit and job, but he is in every way possible old enough to buy beer, plus a decade.

Together the guy and the girl say lots of bad words so you don't feel like a child watching this film. They seem to be good friends, but you get the idea they don't hang out after work because he's too afraid to ask her out and she's too afraid her mom will get upset if she's caught talking to boys.

They also record dead air at the Inn all night long because of the one ghost that's supposed to be around. See, the guy owns a circa-1998 Angelfire website about ghosts and he hopes to nab something for the site. We see a couple of the videos he has so far. One is a shot of a door closing slowly of its own accord (or some wind). The second is a joke video where you look at a spot for a while then something jumps out at you. These clips perfectly summarize what you can expect scare-wise from The Innkeepers. If you can't handle it, I've failed my task. If you don't think it's scary enough, you shouldn't be watching The Innkeepers.

The Inn also holds a couple residents who will become massive parts of the story to come. For instance, there's a lady who has divorced her husband. She and her son are staying at the Inn until they can figure out what to do next. About halfway through, they decide to leave the Inn and the film when the twelve year old girl accidentally runs downstairs in her underwear. See what an important plot development they provided?

Then there's this old lady who used to be an actress in films like Witness and Top Gun, but now sells psychic crystals to other spinsters in little towns across the country. She's in the film to talk to the twelve year old girl like she's in a movie where interesting things might happen, ghost-wise, sex-wise or narrative-wise.

There's also this old guy who comes to the hotel just to commit suicide in the bathtub. We don't get to know him very well, but BRACE YOURSELF. I do show him dead in the bathtub, briefly. There is some blood. Just hold onto your barf bag tightly and repeat to yourself, "It's just a movie. It's just a movie."

For the most part, though, The Innkeepers is just about the adventures of this twelve year old girl as she skips around and asks people nosy questions because she's twelve and doesn't know better. It's funny, I guess, if you're relatively unfamiliar with any other comedy. There's no farting or anything, so I imagine other twelve year olds would find it quite sophisticated.

Eventually, though, the film has to end. So we make everything ghosty all the sudden. What this means is the twelve year old girl runs around a lot screaming. A couple of times -- but only a couple -- we see a ghost lady, but she's not doing anything too scary. The twelve year old girl runs around so much and so wildly that she hits a wall kind of like George of the Jungle and dies. See, not only do you get a horror film, but it comes with a lesson on the dangers of letting horror films scare you too much.

Congrats! You made it! The film ends with paramedics taking the twelve year old's body away while the guy who worked with her and the old lady upstairs display shock at her sudden craziness as well as the fact that she was twelve the whole time. After this, they wait for applause and the curtain call only to be shocked once again to find that they did not just spend the last ninety minutes in a stage play but a real feature film. As soon as they're sure the credits are rolling, they fuck their brains out.

(three stars)