Horror loves its ‘terrible places‘. The looming Gothic castles of Hammer horror movies. Remote cabins in dense woods. Haunted houses with creaking doors and dimly lit halls. According to American professor Carol J Clover, the ‘terrible place’ was one of several necessary ingredients for horror. Though they may not immediately come to mind, hotels have served as the locale for some great horror movies. From Bates Motel to The Overlook, hotels have offered horror fans more scares than just bedbugs and stained sheets. Latest indie horror release, Night at the Eagle Inn, is looking to check horror fans in for an evening of scares and dark humour. To date, critics have enjoyed their stay and responded favourably.
On the night they were born, fraternal twins Spencer and Sarah Moss lost their father. The last place he was seen – the Eagle Inn – a small Vermont inn from which he promptly vanished. Now adults Spencer and Sarah arrive at the Eagle Inn hoping to find answers or some closure. What they find is an inn with only one vacancy but no guests along with a seemingly unhinged manager and mysterious groundskeeper. As the night passes, the twins slowly discover that some secrets are best left unsolved.
Night at the Eagle Inn Finds Scares on a Limited Budget
When you check into Night at the Eagle Inn be prepared for a genuine indie horror movie experience. Writer and director Erik Bloomquist – who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with brother, Carson – is clearly working with a limited budget. Expect a small cast of mostly unfamiliar actors in a single setting with a concept that mostly confines itself to the movie’s small scale. Of course, none of this means Night of the Eagle Inn isn’t a fun and, occasionally, creepy little horror movie. At a trim 70 minutes, Bloomquist wastes little time letting us know something isn’t quite right at this isolated Vermont inn. And where Night at the Eagle Inn excels in the early-going is keeping the audience in the dark right alongside its fraternal twin protagonists.
There’s a stripped down feeling here that lends even familiar scenes atmosphere.
From the eccentric Inn manager to distorted images popping up on television screens, Bloomquist simultaneously builds in subtle scares while deepening the story’s mystery. Though there’s nothing inherently new with what the director puts on screen, the limited budget works to the movie’s advantage. There’s a stripped down feeling here that lends even familiar scenes atmosphere. As the movie hits its third and final act, Bloomquist nearly lets the story outreach his budget and scope. Like many horror movies, Night at the Eagle Inn’s reveal doesn’t quite live up to the mystery. Sometimes not knowing is just scarier. Fortunately, Bloomquist has a sense of humour and a game cast at his disposal.
Night at the Eagle Inn Benefits from an Idiosyncratic Sense of Humour
Even if Night of the Eagle Inn threatens to tread on some familiar ground, the Bloomquist brothers have a quirky sense of humor. And it’s this humour that gives the Eagle Inn a bit of an idiosyncratic vibe, separating it from most indie horror movies. The banter between the siblings is fun which, in turn, makes their relationship – and worsening lot – more relatable. Both Amelia Dudley and Taylor Turner may have limited experience but they’re excellent in their respective roles. In particular, Turner gives Spencer Moss some biting snark that gives the thriller a fun edge when Bloomquist isn’t trying to scare you.
The banter between the siblings is fun which, in term, which makes their relationship – and worsening lot – more relatable.
Not all the humour and eccentricity lands. Whether it’s the writing or not, Greg Schweers’ Night Manager feels more awkwardly odd than eerily off-kilter. In part, the humour is simply off the mark, but Schweer lacks the range necessary to make it work. Similarly, Beau Minniear’s ‘Dean’, the mysterious groundskeeper, works until he doesn’t. In a smaller role, the character adds to the movie’s evolving mystery. However, once Bloomquist pulls the curtain on the Eagle Inn, Minniear’s performance works less well. On one hand, Eagle Inn’s twist almost exceeds the movie’s smaller scale. Yet Minniear also doesn’t work quite as intended as the character takes on a bigger role.
Night at the Eagle Inn Mostly Keeps Its Scares Re-Stocked
Though Night at the Eagle Inn somewhat overextends its reach in the final act, it’s a thoroughly watchable indie effort from start to finish. The Bloomquist’s craft an initially interesting mystery while also investing their siblings with enough quirks to keep you invested. Some may find Night at the Eagle Inn’s reveal to be underwhelming. At the very least, it nearly tilts the movie in the wrong directly. Fortunately, the combination of wit and a final scene that rights the ship should leave most indie horror fans happy with the Night at the Eagle Inn.