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A confined setting is a useful tool for thriller-makers, and Vacancy is definitely boxed in: a rundown motel way, way off the Interstate, the kind of place where unsuspecting movie characters go to get stabbed to death in the shower. If Vacancy doesn't quite live up to its Hitchcockian forbears, at least it provides 80 minutes of well-designed mayhem. You know somebody's paying attention just from the opening credits, a clever vortex with pounding music by Paul Haslinger. Then we meet unhappy couple Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, driving along in the dark and forced to stay at the Pinewood Motel after a car breakdown. There's a night man (Frank Whaley, decadent) in the tradition of Dennis Weaver's Touch of Evil gargoyle, but the real mess of trouble is waiting in room number 4. Director Nimrod Antal, who scored a stylish international hit with the Hungarian thriller Kontroll, squeezes maximum juice out of the Route 66 atmosphere of the motel, although the movie doesn't get under your skin the way Kontroll did. Wilson and Beckinsale are a little too marquee-namish for this kind of heavy-breathing work, and the script doesn't give them much to play with. But hey, it's not that kind of movie. Where it really belongs is on the top half of a drive-in double bill, or maybe as a nightmare-scenario TV movie from the Seventies. Either way, it works. --Robert Horton
Stills from Vacancy (click for larger image)
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Vacancy on DVD
Avoid Your own Travel Disaster
By the Director
- Alternate Opening Sequence
- Checking In: The Cast & Crew of Vacancy
- Deleted Scene
- Mason's Video Picks: Extended Snuff Films
Top Customer Reviews
1. The couple, Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, are having marital troubles. This is a nice twist on the formulaic "couple is in love, has sex, gets killed" theme. You won't find that here.
2. They end up in a really run-down motel run by a truly whacky guy.
3. Things get very frightening and it isn't the usual slasher flick. There are some nice twists and turns here...well, maybe not nice..but definitely riveting.
4. I was surprised several times and screamed my head off. You don't really want me to reveal much more, do you? If you're looking for a horror film, I assume you want to know if you're likely to get scared silly. Based on my reaction, I'd say yes. I also wanted to know how this was going to affect this couple's marriage. I mean, stick two estranged people in a motel with a psycho and see how that changes their perspective...
I do have to add that this isn't the BEST horror movie I've ever seen but it does the job.
The movie could have done with better editing, but the action is almost non-stop, and the acting is above average, esp Kate Beckinsale's agitated & horrified Amy, and the creepy night manager Mason [Whaley] whose tics and weird mannerisms really bring out the psychopath in him. Even Luke Wilson, whose acting history leaves much to be desired so far, manages to give a decent performance.
The ending was rather weak in my opinion,and almost abrupt in the way the filmmakers tried to wrap things up, BUT...a decent effort overall, and worth a watch.
With its nice opening title back and score that strongly remind us of Hitchcock, "Vacancy" is an old-fashioned thriller that does not rely on gores to raise its tension. That works to some extent with the effective performances from the leads and atmospheric photography by Andrzej Sekula. Hungarian director Nimród Antal ("Kontroll") manages to make us jump with several scary moments at first, but the film's tension slowly vanishes as the story unfolds.
For what "Vacancy" shows remains (for me) very familiar. The story here belongs to the territory of urban legends including disturbing images recorded on old VCRs, but slick as it is, the film fails to show a newer angle to tell this old story told in the past.
The film's second (and weaker) part suffers from the lack of originality in storytelling, making the whole situation which was so far pretty intriguing, just incredible. I cannot reveal too much about it, but probably you will think as I did when watching these characters making worst choices. "Vacancy" has its moments, but overall just an OK thriller.
The film begins with a rather remarkable credit sequence in which we glide through a maze of animated names. Its no spoiler to reveal that this is a movie about a couple who check into a motel and then discover they're inside a death trap. But because the logistics of that trap have been so precisely thought out that it's a joy to watch as the the couple, played by Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, try to reason their way out of that trap while at the same time playing out all the subtle shifts of status that take place between two otherwise self-reliant adults undergoing the bitter end stage of a marriage.
The plot is simple: on a night road married couple Amy (Kate Beckinsale) and David Fox (Luke Wilson) are lost and the tension of the night only ads to the fact that this couple is in the throes of a broken marriage, one that fractured at the accidental death of their only son. Frustrated and angry with each other and their plight, they end up stranded in the middle of nowhere and check in to a morbid motel managed by the oily and repulsive Mason (Frank Whaley). From the moment they enter their room they realize something is wrong: the videos on the television are snuff films filmed in the room in which they are staying. From there the action of the film speeds up and is a non-stop ingenious attempt to escape the killers that besiege their room. The trauma of the night makes Amy and David reconsider their history and the film ends with a grande guignol bang.
Beckinsale and Wilson make a credible couple and the writer and director have opted to make the film more about the relationship of the estranged couple than just about horror. It works. This is not a great film, but it is an entertaining one - as well as frighteningly informative...! Grady Harp, August 07
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Considering the suject matter, this could have been another generic horror film, but Nimrod Antal's sure-handed directing elevates this to a well crafted, atmospheric and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Grey5toke
definitely reminds me of the Alfred Hitchcock thrillers of old. Had us on the edge of our seats.Published 2 months ago by Patricia Browning
Vacancy is now one of my favorite scary movies. I watched it today and i have a lot to say about it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jamie Moore
Vacancy is one of my favorite suspenseful movies. I think the actors did a terrific job and I thoroughly enjoy it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Trish