Helmer Ti West, Sara Paxton, Pat Healy talk The Innkeepers horror
The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Conn. is considered one of the most haunted hotels in New England and has been hiding secrets in its ghostly shadows for decades. Even with its history, the century old resting spot is about ready to go out of business. The two employees that are left standing are spending their last days ghost hunting themselves, but they get much more when they bargained for when things start going bump in the night in The Innkeepers.
The cast and crew of The Innkeepers lived and breathed the Yankee Pedlar Inn, filming and taking residence at the hotel for nearly three weeks. Director Ti West and his crew stayed at the hotel in 2008 when he filmed “The House of the Devil.” While there, they had heard the ghost stories surrounding the hotel.
“The cast and crew believed it was haunted,” West said. “The whole town thinks the place is haunted. The staff even has a ghost haunting website.”
West added, “It’s kookier than it is scary, but it’s strange and everything that happens there is a little off. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but this is the closest I’ve ever come to believing because something is not right there.”
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are trying to get through the last few days of work, as a few guests, some troublesome, pass through the hotel. Claire is somewhat oblivious about feelings Luke has for her.
“I think the first half of the movie is a romantic comedy and the second half is freaking scary,” Paxton said.
Healy had met West at the Los Angeles Film Festival several years ago and was very interested in working with the director after seeing The House of the Devil. Besides that film, the story of “The Innkeepers” attracted him to the project.
“I’m interested in the idea of whether or not there are supernatural occurrences or whether they are happening in somebody’s head,” Healy said. “That’s something I’m naturally interested in. I also like the aspect of a character whose prime motivation or though line is that it’s all for her. It’s an unrequited love. It’s sort of sad in a way, but there’s a great humor in that. I also like the dryness of the humor of the character.”
Paxton (The Last House on the Left) said there was very little acting involved while filming, especially walking around dark hallways and a pitch black basement with nothing but a flashlight. She said there was always a “weird vibe” and strange goings on in the hotel.
“In the middle of the night the lights flicker off and on,” Paxton said. “My phone would ring and nobody would be there and in order to call those phones you have to go to the front desk but no one there. My doors would violently fly open ... I was like, ‘It’s the wind,’ but the windows were closed. I don’t know if it were ghosts. I don’t jump to ghosts automatically, but it was defiantly weird.”
Healy said the shoot was like camp. They stayed in rooms on the same floor, across the hall from each other. They ate meals and hung out together in the sleepy town. But being somewhat isolated, he said, can play tricks on the mind.
“In a hotel that is purported to be haunted, even though I don’t believe in such things, after three days, say you’re shooting 12 hour days and maybe eating and drinking in there at night and going to sleep and getting up the next morning, the wallpaper starts to look like it’s beginning to move a little bit, the hallways dimensions are shrinking or those little creaks or gusts of wind seem a little more blown out in your mind,” Healy said. “I can see why people feel like they’ve had supernatural experiences. I don’t know if Ty was fostering that on purpose or not. That is something that makes your job easier to because you don’t have to pretend like you’re in a spooky place.”
Paxton agreed it was like camp and that entire cast got along so well even though they hardly knew each other. It was her first real experience with independent filmmaking after starring in films like “Aquamarine,” “Sydney White” and “Superhero Movie.”
“Ti and I communicated really well,” Paxton said. “He knows what he wants to do and how to do it which makes my job so much easier. Pat and I, our chemistry is absolutely real. We had no rehearsal time. I flew in on a Saturday night and we started filming on a Sunday morning.”
West added, “We made this film in 17 days, which is nearly impossible, with eight days of prep, which is also nearly impossible. We finished early every day because it was very easy for everyone to come down to the lobby and start shooting. When we wrapped we could walk off and leave the lights where they were. It was like having our own little studio. It was very claustrophobic. We lived there, worked there, ate there and it got a little tiring, but it made the movie possible. It couldn’t have happened any other way.”
Paxton is no stranger to the horror genre after The Last House on the Left and Shark Night 3D. But Paxton added that she is still a “baby” when it comes to watching horror films.
“Good horror movies stick with you,” she said. “Everyone has had a scary movie experience in their childhood that to this day they can’t look at something and not think of that. For example, when I was little, I saw ‘The Exorcist’ and that movie to this day ... I’m Jewish and I sleep with a rosary next to my bed. It really sticks with you and that’s kind of awesome.”
The Innkeepers Details:
Release date: Limited Release February 3
Distributor: Magnet Release
Official Site: www.magnetreleasingcom/innkeepers
M.P.A.A. Rating: Rated R for some bloody images and language.
CAST and CREW FOR The Innkeepers
Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillisGeorge Riddle, Lena Dunham, John Speredakos and Alison Bartlett
Directed By: Ti West
Written By: Ti West
Produced By: Peter Phok, Larry Fesenden, Derek Curl, Ti West
The Innkeepers SYNOPSIS:
After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees -Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) - are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England's most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.