10. The InnKeepers – 2011 (Ti West)
On the same weekend that the lousy Woman in Black remake dropped into theaters and made a mint, The InnKeepers debuted to a handful of theaters and Video on Demand and then was promptly forgotten, proof that there is no cosmic justice.
The InnKeepers takes place at the Yankee Pedlar hotel, which is finally closing down. There are only two employees, bubbly asthmatic Claire (Sara Paxton) and schlubby man-child Luke (Pat Healy).
The movie spends a lot of time in the first half just investing in these two people. Luke has feelings for Claire, but is introverted, negative and utterly self-centered. The only thing to break a very long weekend is that fact the Yankee Pedlar is reputed to be haunted and now that’s is almost empty, something might finally happen. A couple of important guests arrive. Luke maintains a ghost-hunting website, and this is the last weekend for him to gather any kind of evidence. And as you can expect, things go really wrong.
This movie does three things better than any film I’ve seen in a while. It understands that nothing else works in a horror film unless you know and like the characters that are in danger. It understands when to show something and when not to. And it builds tension so well that by the time anything really starts to happen, your nerves are too worn to watch. Its subtle, bloodless and deliberate, and that made it too smart for some of its audience.