Viewed – 26 June 2012 Blu-ray
Prior to the actually rather great House of the Devil, I had no prior knowledge of talented director Ti West. Yet with the memory of that movie still clear in my mind and how effective an homage to late seventies / early eighties horror it turned out to be, I decided anything next by this man was a must see.
Two employees at a hotel on the eve of the place closing down for good, begin investigating the chequered history and reports of hauntings over the years, determined to find evidence of a ghostly presence. This simple set up with two likable leads makes way for an absorbing, tension filled movie that’s all about building up the creep-factor before hitting you in the face when the real frights start to happen. It’s an old-fashioned technique and viewers used to being made to jump every five minutes and expecting lashings of gore and violence, may feel restless during this admittedly slow and lengthy build up – but this is a movie that rewards patience, and along with Ti West’s assured, classy direction that makes every corridor, camera angle and whisper unnerving, once the shit-hit-the-fan – I was suitably scared.
The two actors playing the employees (Sara Paxton & Pat Healy) were very natural and convincing, and a (shockingly) aged Kelly McGillis (Top Gun) was also good as a psychic hotel guest. Some of the back story surrounding the spirits and the hotel was a tad vague however, and also the first half was possibly too gentle. Although it didn’t particularly build on what was achieved with House of the Devil, and to an extent remains inferior, this still marks out Ti West as one of the better horror directors around, and overall was a satisfying and very effective experience.
Verdict: 3.5 /5