Release Date: April 20th, 2007 by Screen Gems.
The Cast: Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry, Scott G. Anderson, Mark Casella.
Directed by Nimród Antal.
BASIC PREMISE: David (Wilson) and his wife, Amy (Beckinsale), get trapped in a motel where they might become victims in a snuff film.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Vacancy begins just like many horror films begin as David and Amy’s car breaks down in the middle of the night on a deserted road. The nearest lodging place is the dilapidated Pinewood Motel run by a very creepy caretaker (Whaley) who comes out of his office to greet them after claiming to have watched a violent film with someone screaming their lungs out. Little do David and Amy know what he has in store for them once they enter their motel room and hear strange, loud bangs on their door. The plot becomes very thrilling when David finds hidden surveillance cameras and snuff films which lead him to believe that he and his wife might be the next victims. Screenwriter Mark L. Smith uses every cliché in the book as David and Amy try to get help and outsmart the bad guys. The bad guys, unimaginatively, have no real motive for killing other than for their own sadistic pleasure. At times, the plot feels like Psycho while later in the second act it feels more like Saw, especially given the discovery of a dark, intricate underground tunnel. Director Nimród Antal, who previously directed the Hungarian film Kontroll, knows how to heighten the chills using set designs, lighting, editing and musical score without including too much gore. Vacancy certainly doesn’t tread any new ground and does have a few implausible scenes, but at least it maintains its thrills and chills without common distractions, such as unintentional humor.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
IN A NUTSHELL: Very derivative, but consistently chilling, intense and suspenseful.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "V" Menu