Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers in search of worthwhile horror, I decided to compile a list counting down to my favorite horror covered in AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS since October 1 of last year. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days that aren’t toothless remakes or watered down sequels. Theaters aren’t where the horror is at these days, I’m afraid. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video on Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay. I’ve also compiled a few films I’ve seen advance screenings of at festivals and I’ll try to update you when you can see these films when I can.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year and worked and reworked a list until I had 31. No real method to my madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween toward my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion for those who can’t get enough horror that has something to do with the film I chose that day.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how right or wrong I am, and come up with your own list…let’s go!
Though not as strong as Ti West’s first effort, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS made up for it in charm and last act scares to make my list this year. The review below is from January. THE INNKEEPERS is available now on DVD/BluRay!
In select theaters/available on VOD Feb 3rd!
THE INNKEEPERS (2010)Directed by Ti West
Written by Ti West
Starring Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
After experiencing HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, Ti West immediately became someone for me to watch out for. Having seen a ton of horror films, it takes a lot to give me the willies, but West did with his tormented babysitter ode to the 80’s. When I got wind that West was going to go the supernatural route, I knew this film would prove if the writer/director had the versatility to not only cause chills with real world scares, but otherworldly ones as well.
Turns out he’s got it in spades.
THE INNKEEPERS is a deviously patient and shockingly effective horror film. West patiently introduces us to Claire (played by Sara Paxton, more on her later) and Luke (Pat Healy). Anyone who had a job through college or worked in a place where there is a lot of down time knows this pair’s dilemma. The jobs they have as innkeepers fits in with their slacker mentalities, but that doesn’t stop them from bouncing their big ideas off one another. Luke runs a website highlighting ghostly encounters and talks grandly about the time he experienced paranormal activity at the hotel. Claire wide-eyedly believes him and with the hotel closing, the pressure for a ghostly investigation is on. Being a fan of GHOST HUNTERS and shows like them, I loved the amateur ghosthunting aspects of the film. Having these two bored twentysomethings tool around in the dark would have been enough for me without them finding anything. Healy and especially Paxton are as likable as they come. Healy’s snarkiness is something one could find in any random talkback post, while Paxton offers the wide eyed wonder reminiscent of Henry Thomas from ET, Sean Astin from GOONIES, or William Ragsdale from FRIGHT NIGHT. Though these are all male characters, Paxton serves as the lead here and is much more of the dominant role here while Healy’s true colors shine through as soon as stuff gets supernatural.
The fact that I’ve gone through most of this review without talking about the scares or effects should tell you this is a great film even before the weird stuff starts happening. West makes this a true character piece with these two actors that fascinate the audience the whole time. In doing so, when the supernatural occurs, I felt more invested than ever for the safety of these two characters one can’t help but like.
Though this film obviously had a low budget and a lot of the scares are more due to reactions by the actors and some clever camerawork by the director, this is an extremely scary film. A scene in the basement where the two amateur ghosthunters are trying to summon a spirit is extremely effective and not a ghost is actually seen. It’s all close camerawork, moody music, and deft performances by the actors. Even when the ghostly image of the spirit that used to live in the haunted hotel appears, it’s only momentary with the moments leading up to it shredding nerves the whole time.
Kelly McGillis adds a bit of class and panache as a washed up actress now backing spirit crystals for infomercials who happens to be in the hotel when all the shit goes down. Hers is another performance that makes you care about the living more than one usually does in this type of movie.
Though THE INNKEEPERS is not as spine-tingler-ific as HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, it is a great ghost story which remains effective despite budgetary limitations and takes advantage of the unseen rather than pissing in the punch with cruddy effects or even worse CGI. West, though, has proven himself capable of handling these two genres of horror--the real and unreal--with ease. Reminiscent of GHOSTBUSTERS by way of POLTERGEIST and maybe a bit of GOONIES thrown in, THE INNKEEPERS shows that West is a movie magician to watch.
Wanna see something really scary? How about George C. Scott investigating strange goings on in a haunted house? I’ve seen THE CHANGELING numerous times and every time it gets me. The moody atmosphere. The creepy old house. And George C. Scott delivering an amazing performance. If you like haunted house films like THE INNKEEPERS, THE CHANGELING delivers the goods.
The Countdown so far…#23: THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS
#24: THE PACT
#25: THE WRONG HOUSE
#26: SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE
#27: SPIRIT STALKERS
#28: THE MOTH DIARIES
#29: THE SLEEPER
#30: THE AGGRESSION SCALE
#31: SICK BOY
See ya tomorrow, folks, with number 21 of the best of the best covered in AICN HORROR since last year!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
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