The Yankee Pedlar Inn is a real haunted hotel in Torrington, Connecticut. It is also the inspiration for horror director Ti West’s 2011 film, The Innkeepers. In the film, the old Yankee Pedlar is closing its doors for good. The inn’s two employees, Claire (Sarah Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), are determined to prove that the spirits dwelling inside the inn are real and make contact with them. The film is split into three acts and is more comedy than horror in the beginning. However, towards the end of the film, we meet the apparitions that live inside the inn and come to know their tragic stories.
The narrative in the movie and the actual story of why the inn is haunted differ. The actual account begins at the end of 1890 when Irish immigrant Frank Conley and his wife Alice buy the lot where the inn now stands. After months of construction, the Conley Inn opend in July of 1891. After the death of the Conleys in 1910, their niece sold the inn and throughout the years, the property was owned by a number of different individuals until 1997 when Anil and Dee Patel took over, and are still the current owners. A popular story claims that Alice Conley died in room 353, and she still roams the hall of her beloved inn to check in on the guests. It has also been reported that a rocking chair in the lobby, said to be Alice Conley’s favorite, has been seen rocking on its own. There have also been alleged sightings of Frank Conley in the inn’s pub using the phone.
After staying at the Yankee Pedlar inn while filming The House of the Devil, West was inspired to make the film after hearing some of the infamous ghost tales and speaking to the staff. The film’s ghost story depicts a tragic tale of Madeline O’Malley, who died in the hotel after hanging herself. Her fiancé left her at the altar on their wedding day. The owners of the hotel decided it would be bad press for the hotel if word got out about the suicide, so they hid the body in the basement of the hotel for three days until the body could be snuck out. After the townspeople caught wind of these shenanigans, they were so angry that the hotel had to be shut down. It remained closed until the 60s. Since then, people have reported seeing the fallen bride’s ghost wandering through the hotel.
During the final open week, Claire and Luke step up their paranormal investigations in order to make contact before the hotel closes. When hotel guest and former TV star Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) makes contact with the spirit, Claire starts to witness eerie happenings. For instance, while doing EVP recordings, she hears a piano that is not actually playing. With time running out on her stay at the hotel, Will Claire herself ever make contact with the spirit of Madeline O’Malley or will she leave the hotel behind, forever wondering just what happened to the spirit of Madeline O’Malley?
In my opinion, the film was exceptionally done. Visually it was amazing with incredible attention to detail. The actors were engaging and funny in an atmosphere that was both subtle and scary. However, the scares were nothing to write home about and at times, the film dragged on very slowly.
The Innkeepers is worth seeing. It’s funny and scary at all the appropriate times, and tells an old haunting story from a different perspective.