31 Days Of Streaming Horror: 'The Innkeepers' Is A Lighthearted Comedy That Suddenly Gets Very Scary

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October, we'll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today's entry: The Innkeepers (2012).

The Innkeepers

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Sub-Genre: Haunted Hotel Movie That Tricks You Into Thinking It's a ComedyBest Setting to Watch It In: The Yankee Pedlar InnHow Scary Is It?: Pretty darn scary (but it takes a while to get there)

Tone is a tricky thing in movies. Often, a movie with two wildly different tones could backfire and result in something schizophrenic. But every now and then a filmmaker figures out how to balance things properly. Ti West (The House of the Devil) does just that with The Innkeepers, his slow-burn chiller that works its way up to being unnervingly creepy.

You wouldn't know it from the jump. West starts his film on a light note, focusing on the final days of the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a hotel that's seen better days. The two remaining employees, Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), are ready to close-up shop. But first, they plan to do a little ghost hunting. Claire, a recent college drop-out about to be out of a job, is at a stand-still in her life, at The Innkeepers fools you into thinking the movie is going to be something of an indie drama about directionless youth that just happens to have ghosts in it.

But West's script is sneaky, and as the story unfolds, things start to get very creepy very fast. It seems the Yankee Pedlar Inn really is haunted, and the ghosts within its walls are not about to stay quiet. The spectral elements in The Innkeepers are light at first – spooky EVPs, pianos playing themselves. But there are nastier scares awaiting the main characters – and the audience.

Paxton is dynamite as Claire, turning in a sympathetic and likable performance that makes us give a damn about her fate. Healy is equally good as Luke, who runs the world's worst-looking ghost hunting website. He seems to have feelings for Claire, but she's oblivious to them.

The final act of The Innkeepers is a thing of beauty. West cranks the horror up to 11, and you start to realize that all the humor early in the film was only there to lower our defenses and lull us into a state of calm – making us fully unprepared for the horrors that are suddenly thrown in our faces.