January 27, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

When up-and-coming horror auteur Ti West shot his 2009 film The House of the Devil, the frights didn’t just take place on camera. ”We stayed at the Yankee Pedlar Inn [in Torrington, Conn.], which the town thinks is haunted,” explains the director. ”We would drive every day to make a satanic horror movie, but weirder things happened at the hotel. You had weird dreams. The phone would ring and no one would be there. A year later, I wanted to make a ghost story. It occurred to me: What if I made the one I lived?” The result is The Innkeepers, which hits theaters Feb. 3 and was actually shot at the Yankee Pedlar. The movie — about employees at the Pedlar who investigate the inn’s haunted history — stars Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, and Sara Paxton, who admits she was freaked out just by West’s pitch. ”I was on the other line really getting scared,” says the actress. While Paxton says ”nothing too strange” occurred during the shoot, there was one creepy coincidence about the hotel room West chose as the setting for the film’s most haunted quarters. ”After we wrapped I found out that is the haunted room,” says West, who will next direct Liv Tyler in the sci-fi/horror film The Side Effect. ”I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in the weird Yankee Pedlar.”

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