The Yankee Pedlar Inn is keeping its doors open for one final weekend as the hotel is soon to be closed down due to poor trade (because of the economy, I guess). There are very few guests staying at the hotel thus presenting the two staff members, Claire and Luke (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy), the opportunity to discover whether the hotel’s ghost stories are true. Ti West’s previous effort before The Innkeepers was the brilliantly tense House of the Devil which worked exceptionally well due the sustained tension throughout and the menacing use of suggestion concerning the horror upstairs. The Innkeepers is similar to The House of the Devil in the sense that it is a slow burning chiller that relies on suggestion and tension rather than actual scares; however it’s not quite on the same level as The House of the Devil. That’s not to say there are no generally good jolts in The Innkeepers, but the moments leading up to the scare are the ones that payoff most successfully. Boosting likeable and engaging central characters The Innkeepers treads along at a slow pace, which some may find frustrating, but others admiring the creepy almost The Shining like elements. The film becomes slightly unstuck as the central characters’ actions become more and more absurd as the film steps further in the conventions of the genre, but Ti West’s film works well as an enjoyable character study (the two central actors share a good chemistry) as well as creepily effective supernatural chiller. Ti West leaves plenty of unanswered questions in the narrative, but makes up for these issues by raising a decent level of sustained tension.
Sean William Scott stars as Doug Glatt who is signed up to the local hockey team for no other reason than to pick fights. Soon enough a major ice hockey team called the Halifax Highlanders signs Doug to protect star player Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) who three years previously was knocked unconscious by Ross "The Boss" Rhea (Liv Schreiber) leaving Xavier lacking in confidence and in need of protection on the rink. Goon is hardly a witty, intelligently made comedy, but more of a broad and vulgar comedy that uses swearing and the violence of ice skating to get the laughs. For the first forty minutes Goon is rather enjoyable as its full of some good laughs, but the enjoyment levels and laughs soon decrease as the jokes do not sustain the film’s running time. Seam William Scott is good in the lead role as the dimwitted but likeable Doug as well as well being supported efficiently by the likes of Eugene Levy (as Doug’s dad). The film skates somewhat on thin ice as some of jokes and its depiction of women could leave some offended, but the bigger problem is the film begins to rely on these types of jokes which soon end being rather repetitive. Goon is more of a fleeting reminder to why I don’t ever want to play ice hockey than an amusing comedy.
Swedish born director Daniel Espinosa's first major international film is a thriller starring Ryan Reynolds as Matt Weston a low-level CIA agent who is currently acting as housekeeper for a CIA safe house. Not much is happening, but soon enough a rouge agent named Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is captured and sent to the safe house under armed guard. Shortly after arriving at the safe house a group of heavily armed men burst into the safe house looking for Tobin. Matt escapes with Tobin but soon begins to feel isolated struggling to know who to trust. Clearly director Daniel Espinosa and Editor Rick Pearson went to the Paul Greengrass (who Pearson has worked with) and Tony Scott School of Filmmaking as the editing is best described as erratic, so much so that a fight scene which flicks between Tobin’s and Matt’s separate fights is utterly incomprehensible as the editing is clumsily done. When the plot threatens to go haywire Washington is there to save it with a terrific performance as Frost who has a powerful ability to toy with the mind of young CIA agent Matt. Reynolds is fine in his role as he captures the character's nervousness at being thrown into the deep end, but he is undoubtedly outshone by Washington's quite unnerving villain. The supporting cast is decent, but like so many average thrillers any deaths mean absolutely nothing. Safe House is an enjoyable yet slightly uneven thriller made watchable by Washington.