Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Repeat Bidness: Vacancy

*This post is part of the Week of Reel WHorror!*

Original Release: 04.20.07
DVD Release: 08.14.07
Rated R
1 hour, 25 minutes

Full Price ($$$$) < > Matinee ($$$)

"Vacancy Packs Houses."

Amy (Kate Beckinsale, Underworld) and David Fox (Luke Wilson, Scream 2), are a married couple within weeks of their divorce. Returning from a party Amy sleeps while David avoids interstate gridlock by taking the remote mountainous back roads; getting lost and stranded in the middle of the night (never a good thing). Backtracking to a nearby motel, the couple is left with no option but to stay the night and wait for the garage to open in the morning. Attempting to settle in Room 4, strange noises and bad decor force them to pop in the complimentary videos. Realizing the heinous acts recorded on the tape were taken at the motel, the pair’s differences become inconsequential when weighed against their desire to survive the night.

The trailers for Vacancy left me less than excited at venturing to see this. However, within a few moments it becomes clear that Wilson and Beckinsale are working diligently to save this potentially dicey film. Wilson employs his dry sarcastic wit, making the bitter relationship between the unhappy couple completely believable. Beckinsale brings a pissiness and irritation to Amy’s tone and mannerisms that will send an “ice-cold bitch” shiver down your spine. But Wilson and Beckinsale evolve Amy and David into terrified, God-fearing people when the ear-piercing screams and dull thud of knife in flesh blare from the motel’s ancient TV.

The emotional duress endured by the characters is only one of the driving forces. Director Nimród Antal develops an atmosphere of suspense and intensity to keep audience hearts racing (and, if like the lady a few seats over, jumping from your seat). With such a minuscule cast, the terror and panic generated by Vacancy is surprisingly immense. Unfortunately the film is not an out-of-the-park home run; the director, the producers or the story itself loses its cojones and the ending falls flat. Thankfully, the thrills and chills have more than exceeded the price of admission.

Dirty Undies

The crack of bone, shrill screams and desperate final pleas from blood stained faces will resonate in your mind even though they are the briefest of moments within the film. The struggle of their lives, for their lives, elevates the seemingly weak Amy and David into determined, resentful powerhouses, which make for a hell of a series of tense, violent encounters.

The Money Shot

It just goes to show that you cannot always judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a movie by its trailer. What looked to be a potentially painful and arduous installment in the seemingly endless stream of crap horror is actually one of the better horror flicks. Vacancy is an unnerving film (minor plotholes withstanding), and I don’t think theaters will leave the light on for the easily frightened.

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  1. This one deserved a lot more than it received, both critic and box office wise. It was way more suspenseful than 90% of the so-called "horror" films out there--I guess cause it was based in realism.

    I still get a bit creeped out when I see an out of the way motel, and after this movie, will definitely never, ever stay in one.

  2. I grew up in a small town and there still a few of those creepy motels lingering around. Would never ever stop there.

    My fave moment of Vacancy is watching the blood drain from Luke's face when he's watching the tape and realizes its real.