R&R: What is it about horror movies and hotels?
West: It's probably because they're a transient place. Their history is made up of a history of a bunch of strangers who stay there. For me, this movie wasn't about hotels as much as it was this hotel, because I lived there for almost three months while making House of the Devil, and this movie — I wouldn't say it was based on that experience, but it formed from that experience. So it was weirdly personal.
R&R: Because The Innkeepers is set in a hotel, I’m sure you hear comparisons to The Shining. Do you think those are valid?
West: I certainly hear it mentioned a lot, which is unavoidable, but we tried hard not to evoke The Shining. Once you put a Steadicam in a hallway in a hotel, you're kind of screwed, but I think we pulled off our own thing there. I don't know how you get around it, because The Shining is probably one of the best horror movies ever made, if not the best.
R&R: I love your “slow burn” style, but at the same time, I can understand why some people would not. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like your films — not because they were or were not scary, but because they had a problem with the pacing. With the instant gratification the Internet provides, do you think today's audiences may not know how to respond to an approach like that?
West: To some degree, yeah. Movies in general, but specifically horror movies, have been aimed at the lowest common denominator for the last 10 years — like, extremely more so than they ever have been.
You're meant to be a passive audience member for today's movies. You're supposed to just go there and stare blankly at the screen and go home. That's not really the kind of movies I make or the kind of movies I grew up on, but that is the state of modern movies. I don't think that's going to change too much.
R&R: I was surprised at how kid-friendly it actually is. Other than the character being named Witch Bitch and some minor gore, I could let my 7-year-old watch this. And believe me, he really wanted to, but since I hadn’t yet seen it, I couldn’t find any info online at how appropriate it was.
Cook: We wanted to make it accessible to everyone, even people who weren't huge fans of wrestling and monsters. We just wanted to make a fun movie.
R&R: And you may be too close to it to answer this, but are you pleased with it?
Cook: Absolutely, looking back a year or two after, we could've done things here and there, but with the money with had and such a small crew, I think we pulled off something really special. The budget wasn't much more than a documentary film would have. If there were ever a sequel, it'd be nice to have a bigger budget, but that's something down the road.
R&R: How possible is that?
Cook: I think it's very possible. There's been talks of a remake. We've had discussions about that with a few companies. If that weren't to happen, we'd definitely explore trying to do a sequel or turning it into some kind of franchise.
R&R: If you do have a sequel, what monsters might be in it? Or were they any you had to cut that you’d want to bring into another one?
Cook: We definitely wanted to do a yeti and a sasquatch as a tag team. We wanted to do a Royal Rumble with some zombies against some trolls. We had a list, but logistically and practically, some we could not afford to do with our special-effects budget, so the monsters we did select, we wanted to appease fans of the classic monsters and toss in a couple of ones that would kind of mimic wrestling archetypes.
Like, Swamp Gut is the essential obese wrestler, like King Kong Bundy. Witch Bitch, we wanted to have a couple of female wrestlers in there. We had a list of several mythological monsters, but Cyclops is the only one off that list we chose. But yeah, there's a long list of possibilities. And obviously, in a sequel, you could bring monsters back to life. —Rod Lott
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