Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming; previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/rayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)
One thing leads to another for horror director-writer-editor Ti West. When making “The House of the Devil” (2009), he and his crew stayed at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut. Now he takes over the place that opened in 1891 and locates a haunted-hotel tale there. The inn in “The Innkeepers” is about to close. The owner took off for Barbados; only two employees remain. On their off-hours, they try to record evidence of ghosts with camcorder and microphone for a “Real Hauntings” website. Luke (Pat Healy), who accessorizes his laptop with an “evil inside” sticker, and Claire (Sara Paxton) are likable co-workers with a chance of workplace friending to go somewhere if only the resident evil lets them live. Two guests check in. They are odd but not obviously supernatural threats. West stocks the usual creaks and frights. Doors slam. The piano plays with no hands. There’s a pigeon in the basement. Fresh blood in a bathtub. What ultimately irritates is how the story gets lazy about the haunting and what the goddam ghost wants. Paraphrasing his “Rules of the Game,” Jean Renoir observed, ““The real hell of life is everyone has his reasons.” Even ghosts. Not West. With Alison Bartlett, Jake Ryan, Kelly McGillis, Lena Dunham, George Riddle, Brenda Cooney. 102m. (Bill Stamets)
“The Innkeepers” opens Friday at the Music Box.