With his last two films, it would seem as if Ti West wants to be the Gus Van Sant of horror. House of the Devil and now The Innkeepers have more in common with Van Sant's Last Days or Gerry than any horror auteurs' fare, past or present. Any viewer has to believe that the reason for such lack of "action" has to point to a greater theme in the stories. West is more interested in characters than scares. And, as is clearly evident, just as Wes Anderson, West values set design and framing above all else.
The first thing that seperates itself in a Ti West film is attention to detail. His films are a visual treat for anyone who enjoys how colors, objects, patterns, and angles affect any given scene. He has a great feel for what works best to create atmosphere. It reels me in, personally. It's motivation enough to endure any film at least once.
Most directors would rather work with the same production crew on every film. A shared appreciation and trust for style, etc has already been established. Any process is streamlined where familiarity is present. West's cinematographer, art director, and score composer, all serve The Innkeepers as well as they had House of the Devil. Both films are set in a hyper-reality. They look beautiful but never implausible. It's a place where anyone wishes they could live. If more interior designers existed, these would be reality.
On a limited budget, one might have to sacrifice acting talent for production. The Innkeepers employs even less story than its predecessor and slightly less acting ability. Both films being more character-based, but fleshed out (not unlike a Hemmingway short)through small actions rather than witty dialogue or dramatic moments, competent acting is all that's required. House of the Devil's cast was much better than what we get with The Innkeepers, but that cast also had more with which to work. West's writing is lacking some here and it's not helped any by Sara Paxton in the protagonist role. Her previous work mostly includes teen roles in forgettable teen films. She probably isn't used to showing nuance. There're some laughable lines that West wrote for her, but her delivery of these is near cringe-worthy. Pat Healy's performance is almost equally as pathetic. He's best here whenever he has something to chew on or drink. Again, both actors play kinda deadbeats so there's not much substance at launch, but their lack of charisma doesn't pair well with this film's pacing.
As with House of the Devil, The Innkeepers saves all its energy for the last 15-20 minutes. The problem this time around is that the conclusion is not nearly as interesting as House's was. West smartly sets up what his audience should be expecting in the second scene of the film and then this idea is echoed as a bookend in what he calls The Epilogue. The idea of these two scenes is all that's clever about them. West fails to deliver in the execution, making this film, ulitimately, even more dull than we might've expected.
Verdict: 2.5 Bedpans