Description from Netflix:
In this eerie ghost story, a venerable New England inn closes after a century in business, and the lodge’s two remaining employees are determined to uncover the truth about longtime rumors that the majestic mansion is haunted.
Things I liked:
1. Sara Paxton. As Claire, she showed endless curiosity, boundless energy, wide-eyed wonder and abject horror. At times – in her more awkward moments – she reminded me of a long-lost Deschanel, which is never a bad thing. I had only seen her in a couple movies before this (The Last House on the Left and Shark Night), and she didn’t leave much of an impression on me. She was great in this, though. Far-and-away the best part of the movie.
2. The look of the movie. West is great at making a movie look really good. It’s almost as if Wes Anderson is directing a horror movie. I have the same praise of House of the Devil. He has a great sense of how to use space. Every shot looks perfect.
Things I didn’t like:
1. The Luke character. He annoyed me to no end. It’s quite possible that the actor (Pat Healy) did a really good job. The reason doesn’t matter too much. I found him absolutely insufferable. I hated him, his faux-hawk, his superior attitude, and everything else. Every time he was on the screen, I was annoyed.
2. Once you get past the look of the movie, you realize there’s not a lot going on. The movie itself is pretty boring. No real tension to speak of for the bulk of the film. The dialog isn’t good. It’s not clever. It’s not deep. It’s not snappy. It’s just boring. There’s a little build during the ending, but the movie had completely lost me by that point. In the end, I felt like I watched 80 minutes of two people running a hotel, 10 minutes of a slow-moving ghost story, and 10 minutes of messy, unfocused insanity.
The real problem of this film is the complete lack of tension. Scenes don’t really seem to be building towards anything. Very few things actually happen, and the build to these events is minimal at best.
3. Random, sloppy jump scares. As a general rule, “slow-burn” movies don’t do jump scares. And, if they do, they’re artfully done. This movie decided to throw that rule out the window. There were quite a few jump scares, and none of them were very well done. Lots of random bumps and noises. Just lazy, out-of-nowhere scares.
4. Claire’s inhaler. There were a number of scenes showing her using her inhaler, to the point where they all but telegraphed the ending. This was the exact opposite of subtle.
5. Some of the logic at the end of the movie. They say things like, “We need to get out of this hotel,” then spend a couple minutes milling around the lobby. I understand that you’re waiting for someone, but you should probably just wait outside. There were a handful of moments like this at the ending, and they were all maddening.
6. The ending. Even leaving out the terrible logic employed, the ending was downright comical. The ghosts were ridiculous. If there had been a sense of building terror throughout the movie, the ending could have been very good. But, since there was none of that, it was just boring. It was just crazy stuff happening for the sake of having crazy stuff happen, not because there was an actual build-up to it.
West knows how to make a movie look good, but doesn’t know how to make a good movie. I’m holding out hope that he learns. He was listed as writer/director/editor of this film. He needs to scale back a bit. Work with a co-writer and co-editor. He seems like he’s very close to making something amazing, but he’s missing a key ingredient somewhere.