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LA Film Fest: Day Three (Sunday)

Sunday was mostly a day off from festivalling, due to other plans during the day. I only missed a couple of things I was only semi-interested in, so it wasn’t too big a deal, though I would like to catch the documentary Unfinished Spaces at some point – its story about a project to build an arts school in Havana begun by Fidel Castro in 1962 which was abandoned due to Soviet influence, only to be picked back up again recently sounds pretty interesting (and would’ve been an interesting architectural companion-piece to The Pruitt-Igoe Myth). But ultimately I think the break was probably good, especially as I gear up for five days of early morning working and late night movie-going. Other plans notwithstanding, I was not about to miss Ti West’s new horror film The Innkeepers, so Jonathan and I headed down to check it out.

West’s previous film House of the Devil was a wonderful throwback to ’80s haunted house/devil worship horror that displayed a real talent for filmmaking, and an especially good understanding of how to make a genre film fresh and interesting. Having enjoyed House of the Devil so much, my expectations were pretty high for The Innkeepers, and that’s even without reading the positive feedback from SXSW. My expectations were not misplaced. I loved this movie. It takes its time setting up the inn and its potential ghostly inhabitant, through the eyes of the titular innkeepers, a couple of bright-eyed slackers interested in paranormal activity who are staying in the inn the last weekend before it goes out of business in a last-ditch effort to contact the rumored ghost. Mixing creepy camera angles and terrific sound design with a genuinely witty script and endearing performances from the two leads, West has a film that works equally well as horror and comedy, without ever turning into a parody. When the scares do come, they’re earned, and the general feeling of dread leading up to the two main scary setpieces is fantastic – I’m not ashamed to admit I held Jon’s hand pretty tight through those parts! It’s much more fun, I’ve discovered, watching horror films with other people. :) I could go on about the film for a long time. And did, in my full review on Row Three.

The film comes out sometime this year. If you’re into horror at all, I strongly recommend you go see it. Let’s encourage more things like this to be made instead of the inane slasher schlock we get peddled constantly. So even though I only got to one film on Sunday, it was well-worth it, and I’m pretty sure The Innkeepers will come out near the top when I make my inevitable “best of fest” list.