FILM: Hotel perfect setting for ‘The Innkeepers’
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The 100-minute film is, at its core, a ghost story about a haunted hotel. What’s remarkable about the film for people familiar with downtown Torrington and the Yankee Pedlar is that director Ti West didn’t change muchabout the interior scenes, nearly all filmed inside the hotel, or the exterior scenes.This is a film that is intensely Torrington, even if the film never mentions the city by name. The Pedlar isundoubtedly the star, though, with its creaky old hallways, floral wallpapered rooms, spooky basement and widewood planked lobby.Even the two lead actors in the films, portraying hotel clerks working their last shifts before the hotel closes itsdoors for good, wear the maroon golf shirts the real-life Yankee Pedlar employees wear.West had stayed at the hotel when he was filming “The House of the Devil” in 2009 at Lime Rock Park. Westwas inspired by the look and feel of the hotel, he said, and then he said weird stuff started happening to he andthe crew. The phone would ring and no one would be on the other end, lights would flicker, several crewmembers started having strange dreams.“There’s a really strange vibe there,” West said. “I wanted to make this ghost story, and I thought, what if I wrotethe movie about the experience we lived ... what if we just went back and made it there? The set is alreadybuilt.”West had made a name for himself with the success of “The House of the Devil” and his extremely short andlowcost shooting schedule. He solidified that reputation with “The Innkeepers.” Shot in just 17 days — one dayshorter than “House of the Devil” — and with just two weeks of preproduction compared to other films that takemonths to prepare, West shut down the hotel in April 2010 for filming.All of the cast and crew lived in the hotel during the shoot and preproduction, and many reported feeling thatcreepy vibe West experienced in 2009.And despite the small rooms in the hotel, the creaky floors that worried sound technicians and the lack of spaceto run cameras on wheeled dollies in many areas, West said, the shoot went exceptionally smoothly.The resulting film is a carefully scripted, plodding story that begins by introducing Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke(Pat Healy), who are working their final weekend shifts before absentee owner (the never- seen “Ron”) shuttersthe hotel. Luke runs an amateur ghost hunter website with tales of the supposedly haunted inn, but Claire ismore serious about discovering the ghosts lurking in the hotel’s darkest corners.The real Yankee Pedlar is supposedly haunted by a ghost the staff calls Mrs. Conley, who was the wife of theoriginal owner, Frank Conley. In “The Innkeepers,” the ghost is named Madeline O’Malley, who a bridesupposedly hanged herself in the honeymoon suite after being stood up by her groom.Throughout the movie, local viewers will be delighted that hardly anything was changed to suit Hollywood tastes.Autographed photos of celebrities who stayed at the Inn were left sitting atop the front desk’s back wall, and aRepublicanAmerican newspaper clipping celebrating the Pedlar’s 100th anniversary celebrated in 1991 istacked to an office wall.
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