Country : USA
Running Time: 80 minutes
Distributor: Screen Gems
A young couple find themselves the targets of a malevolent madman who stalks--and films--their every move at a secluded motel after their vehicle breaks down....
Directed by David Arquette. Written by David Arquette and Joe Harris. Starring Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry, Scott G. Anderson and Max Casella
In the last thirty-nine years multitudes of filmmakers have seen the films of Alfred Hitchcock and have been very influenced by them. Those influences found ways to produce themselves in the various rip-offs, homages, spoofs scattered all over the globe and in all kind of genres, including even commercials. So, in the latest trend of torture/horror/suspense/thrillers comes Vacancy, and it's no exception. Actually, if Hostel went Hollywood and Eli Roth lightened up his content, this is what the film may have looked like.
David and Amy Fox (Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale) find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere when their car breaks down. Luckily, they come across a motel with a TV to entertain them during their overnight stay. However, there's something very strange and familiar about the Grade-Z slasher movies that the motel broadcasts for its guests' enjoyment. They all appear to be filmed in the very same room they occupy! Realizing that they are trapped in their room with hidden cameras now aimed at them filming their every move, David and Amy desperately find a means of escape through locked doors, crawlspaces and underground tunnels before they too become the newest stars of the mystery filmmaker's next cult classic!
Vacancy tries it's best to be a Hitchcock film and thrill the audience, but lacks many of his distinctive trademarks. Director Nimrod Antal shot it very well, and while he succeeded at providing some good scares and some nice twists, it serves no purpose other than a schlocky, predictable B-thriller with a bad Hollywood ending. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsdale hold their own and are believable as a married couple on the outs and ready for a divorce. And who doesn't like seeing Kate Beckisndale sweaty, dirty, and screaming for her life? I had no problems with that aspect of the film.
However, the real horror of Vacancy doesn't lie in the graphic or shocking depictions of murders. What is most disturbing in Vacancy is the utter lack of foreshadowing. The audience, same as the victims, don't know where the real danger is coming from. Slasher movies, scare the audience because the danger doesn't come in the form of monsters or supernatural beings; the killings are committed by ordinary people next door, people who might be friendly and nice and people who might even not be aware of their own homicidal tendencies. Such is the role of Mason, the creepy, ticky manager of the hotel played superbly by Frank Whaley, who needs to work more.
Despite it's drawbacks, the film serves its purpose as an enjoyable viewing experience. It has a good amount of character development and an excellent pace that keeps the adrenaline pumping. Vacancy might be not perfect, but it is still a decent thriller. Keep an eye out for the DVD as this is the perfect Saturday afternoon distraction.
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Review by John Gray, for Pitofhorror.com