Wednesday 8 August 2012


Following up his success with House of the Devil, writer/director/editor Ti West's latest horror is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

With only a few days to go before the Yankee Pedlar Inn closes forever, its two remaining employees try to find out if there's any truth behind the stories of ghosts roaming the halls. Armed with little more than a microphone, they try and record any instances of spooky goings on. Aware of the building's history, Claire and Luke (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) look for the ghost of Madeline O'Malley, finding more than they bargained for.

In what might be the most laid back horror movie ever, Ti West has built upon the creepy 'haunted house' story he gave us with House of the Devil, the film that brought his name to wider recognition (he prefers it if people don't mention Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, although I actually didn't mind it that much), and injected the horror genre with a healthy dose of comedy. Replacing the retro chic of House of the Devil is college drop-out, post-millennium, minimum wage job hating. This film could almost be Clerks: The Shining Years.

That's not to say this isn't an incredibly tense horror, as it never fails to deliver edge of your seat scares; it just also happens to be one of the funniest horror films I've ever seen. Not in an extreme gore, witty one-liner way like Evil Dead 2; this film understands how close the line between scaring someone and making them laugh is, and often skips across it. In the lead role, Sara Paxton's Claire is a girl in her early 20s with a lack of direction. Soon to be out of a job and with the only real guest being Kelly McGillis's ageing actress/mystic, she's just trying to find a way to occupy her time at work by goofing around looking for ghosts. Much better here than in last year's Shark Night 3D, Paxton handles the mix of comedy and horror well, although her character often makes some stupid choices. Why would you go into the cellar?

Apart from a few early scenes that venture as far as the local coffee shop (including a brief cameo by Lena Dunham), all of the action takes place within the Yankee Pedlar Inn. A real hotel that the cast and crew stayed in whilst shooting, it's a building that lends itself to be in a horror movie, with its 'rustic' look and creaking floorboards. The great Cheers-like opening credit sequence shows how the building has changed over time, into this creepy, gothic Overlook Hotel-like monolith just waiting to be the setting of a horror movie.

Like House of the Devil, it has a head scrambler of a final act; its slow building mix of comedy and minimum wage malaise giving way to tense, dramatic horror. Ti West has delivered an update of the classic horror story that works by showing us very little, using deft direction, editing and sound design to keep us on edge. With genuine scares and a unique sense of humour, this is a haunted house horror that you shouldn't over look.


Special Features:
+ Behind the scenes
+ Commentary with director, producers and sound designer
+ Commentary with director and stars

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