Traveling is the new hip thing to do. Or so I would like to believe. I’m a movie nerd, and I really truly enjoy horror films, so I have started this new way of giving myself vacations- seeking out haunted locations and especially those brought to light by horror films. Now I’m not talking about traveling to Amsterdam and throwing myself into a Hostel like situation, I’m talking about traveling to somewhere scenic and appreciating why the film chose that as a particular location. See? Total film nerd.
Last year, while residing in the great state of Texas, I discovered that there were a handful of locations that had actually been turned into somewhat of a tourist trap. The locations from the original and remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were hidden all throughout the San Antonio/ Austin region, and you could purchase your ticket in movie history for a wad full of cash. In my rebellious fashion, I set out finding all of the locations myself, and giving myself a once in a lifetime tour of murder and mayhem. The outcome- one of the coolest experiences I ever could have asked for. And while I didn’t come across any flesh eating banshees wielding chainsaws, I did eat the finest meal I have ever drooled over- in the living room of the original house. You know-the one where all of the chicken feathers and blood was?
This year, with a change of scenery, I set out on a much different journey. I recently came across the director known as Ti West, and have fallen somewhat head over heels for his work. After seeing The Innkeepers, I became entranced with the idea of a quaint little inn that is truly just beautiful. Upon researching it and navigating past the movie sites set up for fans (the websites that the characters use and reference in the film), I learned that the Yankee Pedlar Inn truly did exist and was open for business. I fantasized for almost a year, planning on going up and staying a night in the off the beaten path town. Of course, the inn was described as haunted, and many a story can be found about various haunting. The film done by Mr. West was inspired by his cast and crew experiences while shooting in the same town for his retro horror film House of the Devil. While his crew stayed in the inn, they were plagued by vivid dreams and playful poltergeists closing doors and playing with TVs. The experience led him to pen the script for The Innkeepers and voila!
Having experienced the brush of a haunting once before (in Texas) and being somewhat skeptical, what better place should I go than one where the ghosts are almost guaranteed in the history! I planned my time away around the debut of a little known musical that was opening across the street from the inn, “Evil Dead: The Musical”, and set off for the mountains of Connecticut.
Pulling up to the hotel was everything I thought it would be. Rich in history, the 100 year old hotel has seen a varied cast of characters come through its doors. Opened by an Irish immigrant and his wife, who poured their money into it to turn it into Connecticut’s premiere inn for a period of years, the inn has been kept up well for the most part. The staff is helpful and hopeful, and the modest coloring is nothing but comforting. Of course, stepping into the inn, you step back in time in a way, and a strange feeling comes over you, as if you feel like you shouldn’t be there.
Unfortunately, the hotel was booked the night I stayed, so I wasn’t able to explore the more haunted rooms. I felt mine was a little blasé and boring- just a giant king bed, a view of the rooftop next to the room, and a connecting door through which I could hear every word of the phone conversation of the loud ass traveler. The evening went without issue or excitement, but it was after the darkness fell that something changed.
After going to bed at a late hour, I found myself in an incredible sleep, and it was somewhere here where I have no idea if I stayed in the dream state or actually woke up. Laying on my side, I felt something touch my shoulder, and hold me on the bed. I couldn’t move, and something grabbed my head on either side and started shaking it. Fearful, but unable to move, when the shaking stopped, I attempted to call out, only to feel as if I had lost my voice and couldn’t. The shaking resumed and stopped a few more times, and then I finally was able to break free and lean up. I looked at the clock at the foot of the bed. 2:10. I laid back down, and I looked at the clock again. 6:10. It was then I felt a feeling of total terror come over me- something I have never felt before. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I managed to gather myself after a few minutes and begin the morning preparations to start my journey home.
I spoke with a friendly front desk clerk when I had checked in, one who had told me that he hadn’t personally experienced anything in the inn himself- even working the overnights. He had heard the stories of end tables moving from one end of the bed to the other in the darkness, and the rarity of someone feeling a presence get into bed with them. As I ate my breakfast in the charming, yet empty meal room- which is overseen by a ghastly older woman who wanders from one side of the room to the other in a mourning gown it seems, I seriously questioned my experience. Throughout my drive home (during which I stopped off in Sleepy Hollow- which is awesome!), I recalled the feeling of sheer terror- a feeling close to that feeling that my first horror film gave me- opening new worlds, new experiences, new terrors. While as a filmmaker and a film lover, I appreciate it, as a person- it scares the shit out of me.
Honestly, I’m still a skeptic about it, but I’m definitely not going to watch The Innkeepers for a while- just in case.