Many people would become frightened when they find out the hotel they’re staying at is haunted. But experienced horror screenwriter-director Ti West happily embraced the opportunity. After finding out the hotel he and his crew were residing in, the Yankee Pedlar Inn, while shooting his last film, The House of the Dead, the filmmaker wanted to capture the inn’s essence on screen.
West decided to film an entire movie, the new horror-thriller The Innkeepers, based on his experiences at the Yankee Pedlar. Shot on location at the real hotel in Torrington, Connecticut, the film showed why people are so curious about death and the supernatural, and what they would do when they encounter a ghost.
The Innkeepers follows Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), the two remaining employees of the reportedly haunted Yankee Pedlar Inn, as they cater to the remaining guests before the hotel permanently closes. Bored while on their last shifts, the two decide to prove that the rumors are true and the inn is really being haunted by Madeline O’Malley (Brenda Cooney), who is believed to have committed suicide in her room. As Claire and Luke document the evidence they encounter, they realize they come into contact with more than they bargained for, and don’t know how to escape from the evil lurking in the inn.
Paxton and West took the time to sit down with us in New York City to discuss what it was like working and living together with the rest of the cast and crew at the real Yankee Pedlar. The actress also described what attracted her to the role of Claire, while West spoke about where he came up with the idea for The Innkeepers.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: Ti, you came up with the inspiration for The Innkeepers during the production of your previous film, The House of the Devil, when you were staying at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut. What inspired you to write a movie based on your experiences there?
Ti West: On The House of the Devil, we stayed at the Yankee Pedlar because it was cheap, and it was kind of near, about 30 minutes away, from our location, which was in the middle of nowhere. We were making this satanic movie, but stuff was happening back at the hotel. We didn’t think too much of it at the time.
But when we went back to make a ghost story, I thought, I kind of lived one, so let me just write that. I’m always more attracted to things that are more personal stories, so I just kind of wrote that, and that’s where it came from.
WGTC: Sara, you play Claire, one of the last remaining employees of The Yankee Pedlar Inn, in the film. What attracted you to the role?
Sara Paxton: Well, I was working on another movie when I got the script for The Innkeepers. Ti and I also had a mutual friend who was working with me. She told me about Ti, and then we spoke on the phone. We met in L.A. when I got back.
I feel weird saying this because he’s sitting right next to me, but Ti seemed really interesting. But I hadn’t seen The House of the Devil, because I try to avoid all movies with the devil in the title. I get easily flustered. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun, and I really liked the story. I was really impressed with Ti.
WGTC: How did you prepare for your role as Claire, and what type of research did you do?
SP: I didn’t do anything, really. (laughs) I mean, besides research Ti. I sort of connected with the character. I just put myself in it.
TW: I wouldn’t say you’re like Claire, but you’re not far off. You’re more like her than like some other characters that you’ve done.
SP: Yeah, I think I could relate. The dialogue was really natural, and I was feeling it. (laughs)
WGTC: What was your working relationship with Pat like, since many of your scenes were with him?
SP: I love Pat. I think Pat’s super funny, he was really easy to get along with. It was weird-even though we didn’t film for that long of a time, I think that because we were all living together at the Yankee Pedlar, it was like frat housing. We ate all our meals together. It made everyone get close fast.
TW: Someone else said we must have had a lot of rehearsal time, and asked me how much time we had. I said none, Sara and Pat met the night before we began shooting.
I think part of it is that I think I’m a pretty good judge of character, and I said I think this will work, everyone will get along. I think there’s nothing worse than shooting where everybody doesn’t get along. When that happens, it’s horrible.
SP: I don’t even remember how it happened, I think that right away, we got along.