With low-budget films like Paranormal Activity, Apollo 18 and The Devil Inside giving the “found footage” horror genre room to grow, classic horror films have lost their place in Hollywood. Looking to change that is Ti West, director of the under appreciated film The House of the Devil, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever and now The Innkeepers.
Set in what is believed to be one of New England’s “most haunted hotels,” Yankee Pedlar Inn is about to shut its doors for good. Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) –the last remaining employees whip out the EVP detectors to try and capture proof. As the final days grow near, odd guests check in as the mediocre “ghost hunters” begin to experience bizarre events that ultimately convert them into believers.
After stumbling upon Yankee Pedlar Inn during production of The House of the Devil, the inn’s year’s long reputation of being a “haunted house” lived up to those standards. The inn’s unnatural vibe went on to inspire an old-fashioned ghost story as the premise of The Innkeepers and served as the key location to bring that aura on film.
Staying in the Yankee Pedlar during filming of The Innkeepers was unusual to say the least, yet interesting to experience the supernatural first hand for the cast and crew.
“It’s kookier than it is scary, but it’s strange. And everything that happens there is just a little off. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but it was the closest thing to I’ve ever come to believing because something is just not right there,” says West.
Paxton, who is better known for her role in The Last House on the Left, returns to the genre once more and faces her surprising phobia of horror films. Having sworn off watching them, she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work alongside West.
“He’s so good. He’s so talented - it’s crazy. I know now from doing this movie, knowing him, that people think of him as a beacon of hope for the genre, and that’s really cool,” claims Paxton.
Having been a fan of The House of the Devil, it didn’t take Healy long to sign on to The Innkeepers. Lucky to have found an instant connection with his co-star and a smooth transition to his dry-humored character with similar traits, Healy was intrigued with the story and impressed with the outcome.
“I was certainly interested in the idea of whether or not there are supernatural occurrences or whether they are happening inside someone’s head. That’s something I’m naturally interested in,” mentions Healy.
Paranoia certainly creates a sinister atmosphere that begins to escalate more and more throughout the film, leaving the audience wondering the reason behind the turn of events. The film without question draws on suspense, dating back to vintage horror where you wait and wait and then jump out of your seat.
Trying to avoid the home video trend, West took an unusually creative take on sound design that put the audience in the EVP perspective, making audiences cringe in their seat with uneasiness.
“Sound design is very important in horror movies…and I use it to carry the narrative a little, which is bold.”
Having made a small contribution to V/H/S, which will premiere at Sundance this year, West does draw on “found footage,” but is confident the film steers away from the obnoxious and unoriginal reputation “found footage” films have made for themselves in the last few years.
Set on being seen as more than a genre director, West already has a werewolf film in the works, as well as a Sci-Fi script further along the road. Having yet to become rich and famous by Hollywood standards, West is perfectly comfortable relishing his Independent film lifestyle.
The Innkeepers releases February 3.