|Vacancy (Blu-ray Disc, 2007) (Blu-ray Disc, 2007)|
|Vacancy Blue-ray DVD|
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Average review score based on 56 user reviews
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This riveting thriller features Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple whose car breaks down, stranding them at a very dangerous hotel. Director Nimrod Antal carefully builds the suspense as the film gradually leads to horror when the hotel turns out to be a snuff film operation, with cameras everywhere and lots of truly horrific videos of past murders (shot in the same room) lying atop the TV set. The couple needs to think fast before they become the next victims.
low-rent motel setting--lots of rotted wood, stained wallpaper, and ugly sofas--provides a realistic sense of space. Intelligently crafted and unfolding practically in real time, VACANCY is edge-of-the-seat all the way. Other strong points are the punchy score from Paul Haslinger, a PSYCHO-ish credit sequence, a creepy Frank Whaley as the hotel clerk, and lots of references to films like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. Thanks to all this care and attention, the scares linger longer than you might expect, so don't watch it alone.
Love this movie!!!I will Never Stay in a Low Rent Hotel again LOL,,,LOL,,,LOL...
Very Creepy...But well worth the price I paid for it...A must see and own DVD
"Vacancy" is a stylish, scary, ambitious thriller that recalls not only the original "The Hitcher" but also some of Alfred Hitchcock's work. That's for the first 45 minutes. The second 45 minutes is so routine and disappointing that it's hard to believe it was made by the same skilled filmmakers responsible for the first.
Director Antal is a skilled craftsman with a terrific eye — a rare ability to craft images that are original and stylish, but also dramatically purposeful. His lead actors, Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, are terrific as well, but by the film's midpoint the performers and director feel like they're straining to make illogical situations believable.
"Vacancy" starts off with a great opening title sequence that recalls Saul Bass's work in "Psycho", and then thrusts the audience into the marital discord of David and Amy Fox; an estranged couple driving home from an uncomfortable family gathering in which they've had to act like they're still happily together.
When David and Amy get lost and their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they check into a creepy motel that makes Norman Bates's place look like the 'Four Seasons'. Retiring to their room, they discover a collection of videotapes, showing guests being murdered in the room they're sleeping in.
What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between the Foxes and a trio of murderers whose business is shooting snuff films, a premise that's extremely scary at first.
Antal controls the tension beautifully in his opening scenes, using his camera not only to emphasize the emotional distance between David and Amy, but also to create a palpable sense of claustrophobia (almost the entire film takes place on the motel grounds).
As the hopelessness of the couple's situation sinks in, it seems as though Antal and writer Mark L. Smith are setting the scene for a classic horror film.
The movie stops short, however, when it stops playing fair with the audience. What starts as a tense, realistic thriller descends into clichés and silliness as the characters — both heroes and villains — begin acting like idiots to keep the movie from screeching to a halt. "Vacancy" is particularly inconsistent when it comes to the matter of what the killers can actually see on their hidden cameras; when it suits the filmmakers for the bad guys to be intimidating, they seem to have total video coverage of the motel property, but in other scenes there are long stretches of time in which Amy and David dismantle the rooms and move from one location to another unobserved. As the film progresses the thugs make illogically poor mistakes, draining the story of all the suspense it created in the opening scenes.
"Vacancy" owes a lot to Hitchcock, specifically "Psycho", and there are plenty of images and devices cribbed from "Halloween" as well. Antal and his collaborators just lack understanding of what made those movies truly great. The tension in "Psycho" and "Halloween" is all-pervasive because there are deep, profound connections between psychological and surface thrills.
The energy in "Vacancy" dwindles; with no correlation between David and Amy's marital problems and the action set in the motel. "Vacancy" never really goes for the throat with its violence, stopping short of assaulting the audience in a way that makes greatness. It wants to be "Hostel" but for nice folks, which is a pointless shame given the talent that is in front of the cameras.
Potential Left Behind.
With a little more depravity, Vacancy, the bare-bones, derivative motel-owned-by-a-psycho film could be one of those grindhouse films that Quentin Tarantino remembers fondly.
It has that kind of stupid energy, unhindered by logic, and it does eschew some of the more by-the-numbers crap you see in corporate horror films today. Example: The psychos here are not unstoppable killing machines who get up again after you stab them to death, just so there's one more chase to fill in that last reel.
In fact, last reel be damned. Having pressed all the voyeuristic buttons it's allowed for its rating, Vacancy just stops. Even for a horror film it's short, leaving you looking at your watch and saying, "Yeah! I still have time to go home and catch 24."
But really, how much time do you need to convey the important message that when your marriage is in trouble, you're much better off being chased by psychopaths than going to a marriage counsellor? And anyway, how many hours of frantic action do you expect to squeeze out of a story that takes place almost entirely within the walls of a motel room? As if having studied Hitchcock For Dummies, director Nimrod Antal does a serviceable job gleaning claustrophobic shudders out of this setpiece.
Vacancy opens in a car with Amy and David Fox, a couple whose body language (and dialogue) reads "we can't stand each other." She's just woken up in the wee hours to find her husband has taken a detour off the Interstate en route to her mother's, they're lost and the car is making noises. That alone would strain most marriages, but there's also some baggage about a dead child.
It's a bit redundant to recap the plot, since the commercials and trailers for Vacancy pretty much give it all away. Suffice to say, they break down and wind up at the decrepit Pinewood Motel run by Mason, a greasy nerd straight out of central casting (Frank Whaley). Clearly, nothing about our couple's circumstance is supposed to be a surprise. When they show up, Mason comes from the back where he's apparently watching a movie in which a woman is screaming. As they leave his office, his malevolent leer, straight out of a silent movie, follows them. Vacancy doesn't so much telegraph what's coming as hit you over the head with it.
As you may know from the trailers, the room turns out to be full of cameras, and they discover VHS tapes of people being murdered in the room (although it's presented relatively tamely considering the subject matter).
The first order of business in a situation like that might be to get out of that motel room. And they do, on a number of occasions, but always end up being scared back into it -- as if it's the safest place to be. It's the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. I'm thinking, unless these guys are mutant bat-people with night-vision, the nearby woods would be a safe bet. But no, they keep running back into that scary room to be terrorized anew.
Again, this falls short of After Dark Video-worthy depravity. The violence is fairly bloodless -- though Beckinsale is brutalized enough to earn Vacancy the misogynist stripes it needs to uphold the tradition of its genre.
Caught this one off cable recently and honestly I wasn't all that impressed. Wilson and Beckinsale do an adequate job as the broken-hearted couple who's marriage is crumbling after the death of their child, but what got me most about this film is the various degrees of illogical plot points running throughout it. Sure, as a Hitchcockian thriller it does a good job of emulating that eras feel, but in placing that type of film in present-day make sure you have your characters act accordingly. For example, if you were an inn-keeper who secretly killed various guests in a violent invasion style solely for the puropse of filming it to sell snuff films, why in the world would you leave some of the tapes in that room for the future victims to be warned? And if you saw a bunch of cameras in your room's airvents after those tapes, wouldn't you rip them off the walls in shock and anger? Though logic aside, this is a decent middle-of-the-road thriller with a couple of interesting scenes, but with a somewhat let-down "see, I'm okay after all" ending. Yes Frank Whaley does come off in this flix as Norman Bates-like, but could probably have pushed the limits a little more, and I'm still surprised that each new viewer of those tapes can recognize that they're in the same motel room just in seconds, even though they just got there. Rent it/Cable.
Vacancy is well-scripted action thriller that really makes you think -- about all those small town, Mom and Pop motels you've stayed in over the years. Vacancy has a very believal plot and the two stars, Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale give excellent performances as a married couple who are suffering from the loss of their child and have fallen out of love for each other. Frank Whaley as the creepy hotel clerk plays an exceptional role in this film. The only question I ask - when they are realize that their hotel room is actually being played on the television set that they are watching - why are they still there? Very pleased that I bought this DVD.