Innkeepers, The (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 23-Aug-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Crew: Ti West, Peter Phok, Larry Fessenden, Graham Reznick
Audio Commentary-Crew & Cast: Ti West, Sara Paxton and Pat Healy
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer- x 4 for other films
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 101:19 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ti West
Studio
Distributor
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Sara Paxton
Pat Healy
Alison Bartlett
Jake Ryan
Kelly McGillis
Lena Dunham
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Jeff Grace


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD High Resolution Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“You mustn’t go down into the basement”

     The old and venerable Yankee Pedlar Inn, established in the 1890s, is going out of business at the end of the weekend. A staff of two remains on duty for this last weekend: Luke (Pat Healy), a 30 something geeky nerd, and Claire (Sara Paxton) a younger woman. The inn has few guests, but Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) books in. She had been a famous actress but was now a spiritual healer, dealing in psychic energy. Later in the weekend an old man (George Riddle) books in for the night, requesting the same room he had stayed in many years ago on his honeymoon.

     Claire has an interest in the paranormal, which Luke pretends to share as he likes Claire. Her interest stems from the fact that decades ago a woman named Madeline O’Malley was jilted by her fiancé on her wedding night and committed suicide by hanging herself in the hotel. To avoid bad publicity the then owners of the inn hid her body in the basement woodshed for three days before it was discovered. Since then, guests at the inn have seen her ghost, in her wedding dress, so the Yankee Pedlar has gained the reputation of being haunted. Claire is determined, on this last weekend, to try to establish contact with the spirit of Madeline, and Luke goes along for the ride.

     What starts as a bit of a lark becomes more serious as Claire begins to feel a spirit and hear the piano play without anyone at the keyboard. Luke remains sceptical, so Claire turns to Leanne. She is able to tell Claire that there is not one but three spirits in the hotel, and that Claire is in great danger. And she warns Claire not to go into the basement. But of course she does, and the last night at the Yankee Pedlar Inn turns very deadly.

     You have to love any film that starts with a recommendation from the Blu-ray authors to play the film loud! The Innkeepers does indeed need to be played loud because this is not a horror film where the shocks are all about blood, gore and severed limbs; The Innkeepers is about silences, things heard but not seen, an atmospheric, chilling thriller that builds up in intensity until it becomes almost unbearable.

     The Innkeepers works on a lot of levels, but not if you are expecting wall to wall shocks. It is very much an old school ghost story, but does not go down the usual horror pathways. The setting is not some isolated, dilapidated house, but an urban hotel which, while it has seen better days, is still well maintained and cared for. The film is also not an ensemble piece where the fun is in picking who will be the next victim. Instead there is really only Luke and Claire. The film is told mostly from the viewpoint of Claire and Sara Paxton is fantastic in a role where she is seldom off camera. Claire is a bit of a geek too, but is capable if impressionable and Paxton brings a pitch perfect blend of humour, confusion, optimism and terror to the role.

     The first hour of the film is funny and natural, the dialogue and interplay between Luke and Claire beautifully realised. We care about these two, which makes the tension of the last 40 minutes incredibly intense. Their motivations are also well realised; after the warning we just know that they will go into the basement, but how it happens does almost make sense in the context of the film.

     Writer / director / editor Ti West (who made a name for himself with The House of the Devil (2009)) throws in a few cheap scares early in the film but otherwise builds the tension gradually, although there is nothing added or wasted and most things introduced get their pay-off later. The film also never explains itself; whether ghosts exist in the hotel is left open because it is really only Claire who sees them and they may well be in her imagination, but no less deadly for that.

     The Innkeepers is an impressive supernatural horror / thriller. It is well made, well-acted and delivers an intense, chilling experience, and the pay-off does make more sense than usual. This film is a ripper and Ti West definitely a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Innkeepers is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original ratio being 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Made the old fashioned way on film, detail is clean and sharp and, unlike many films, the colours have not been extensively digitally corrected. Instead we get beautifully natural colours in the interior of the hotel; they not vibrant but wonderfully reflect the neutral colours of an antique hotel and its patterned wallpapered walls. Skin tones are great, blacks are deep and inky solid, shadow detail superb; we see just what the director and cinematographer Eliot Rockett wants us to see. I did see the odd slight artefact, and ghosting was evident on vertical lines such as the railing at 3:27, but nothing serious.

     This is a wonderful looking print.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English DTS-MA HD 5.1.

     This is an excellent audio track. Supernatural thrillers rely on the unseen but heard and The Innkeepers delivers with a subtle but enveloping audio track thanks to sound designer Graham Reznick and composer Jeff Grace. Dialogue is always clear. The sounds of the hotel building are not overdone – this is not a case of squeaking floorboards or creaking walls – but doors shut and sound is constantly in the surrounds drawn from both the hotel and effects. These effects do also tend to pan around the rears as well, giving a great feel. The sub-woofer added effective bass to tense moments, depth to the scares and to the music but never unbalanced the sound design.

     The score by Jeff Grace was mainly orchestral and added to the tension wonderfully, without telegraphing the scares.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The following trailers play on start-up and must be skipped. They cannot be selected from the menu: Norman (2:32), Absentia (1:35) Forks Over Knives (2:18) and Chasing Madoff (2:26).

Audio Commentary – Crew

     Ti West (writer/director/editor), Peter Phok and Larry Fessenden (producers) and Graham Reznick (2nd unit director / sound designer) sit together and chat about the film. They talk about their intentions, the location and the sound design but they laugh a lot, saying they like such and such a shot. I was expecting a more technical commentary about the shooting, but it didn’t happen. They also confirm the ambiguity of the film’s approach to the existence of ghosts.

Audio Commentary - Cast

     Ti West (writer/director/editor) plus Sara Paxton and Pat Healy (cast) sit together and watch the film. They have a good rapport, chat inanely, laugh a lot and make funny voices, although the men do most of the talking. But they don’t say much at all about making the film and there are a number of silences. Not my favourite type of commentary.

Behind the Scenes (7:27)

     Superficial behind the scenes footage plus interviews with Derek Curl, Peter Phok, Larry Fessenden (producers), Ti West (writer / director), Jade Healy (production designer), Graham Reznick (2nd unit director / sound designer) and cast George Riddle, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis and Sara Paxton. Looks a bit at the hotel location, characters and dogs on set!

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray is the same as ours. Support the local distributor.

Summary

     The Innkeepers is an impressive supernatural horror / thriller. This is not a horror film where the shocks are all about blood, gore and severed limbs but a well-made, well-acted ghost story that delivers an intense, chilling experience; and the pay-off does make more sense than usual.

     The video and audio are wonderful, there are extras including two commentaries which are not all that worthwhile. However, The Innkeepers is highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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