I think my viewing glasses theory fits in very well with Bachelard's Poetics of Space, don't you, Jeff? And I've never even heard of the guy! I love Brandon for championing that analogy, by the way. I feel proud every time he brings it up.
I wonder if my insistence on ignorance when it comes to film is a part of why it so much easier to enjoy it than those of you who read up on reviews before watching. Even after a film, it's more uncommon for me to look up what other people have said about it. Typically if I look something up, it's after some kind of "based on a true story" film to see where the movie differs from reality. Even so, I find that I have preconceived notions going into films that keep me from enjoying them. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a good example. Genre plus director plus actors plus particular setting all made me think it was going to be a great film, and it was a travesty. I set myself up to be disappointed is what it amounts to. But I think maybe some people enjoy not liking movies (John, Jeff?) and feeling superior to them, so they try to facilitate that whenever possible (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). So I feel pretty determined most of the time to go in ignorant to a film. It's why I like things like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes so much. I can get a sense for how the film has been received without needing to know anything about it beforehand.
I LOVED Sara Paxton in The Innkeepers. She felt like such a real person in a way that seems rare in films. Either she's a tremendous actress or that's exactly what she's like in real life. I was really sad when she [SPOILER] dies [END SPOILER] at the end because I liked her so much. I disagree about the payoff. I thought it was fantastic. And I loved how the audience is left with the question of the degree to which the horror was her own making. All of your other observations, though, about the use of space and quiet interludes, etc. were spot on.