Running Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale
Directed By: Nimrod Antal
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
A young couple gets stranded at an isolated motel and must fight from being snuffed out.
There is a disturbing trend in horror/thriller movies today to have the lead couple being in some sort of huge argument prior to their life or death predicaments. It could be they are breaking up or just angry about something (See Strangers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning as examples) but it doesn’t work. I guess they are trying something a little different from the loving relationship angle but it bothers me and I will tell you why. When people find themselves in horrific situations like being chased by deranged killers or sadistic monsters, no one would try and protect someone they hate. It is barely believable when someone enters a murder house to save a significant other let alone someone they detest. Stick to the love angle Hollywood, I know it is boring but it is the only way to go. Vacancy is the story of Amy and David Fox. They get stranded at an isolated motel and realize something is not quite right with their accommodations. What is supposed to be a quiet overnight rest turns in to a fight for their lives.
This film never hooked me from the very start with the strained dialogue between the Fox’s and the cheesy broken down car scenario. Listen, I get that explaining why cell phones don’t have signals, and why people are on dark and quiet roads are a necessary evil. What I don’t understand is why it has to be such an odd calamity of errors for all this to happen. Anyways, the constant bickering between Amy and David about their impending separation doesn’t endear them to the viewer. In fact, because of the brooding and barely contained tension between them, it makes you want them to get put out of their misery quite early on. The film gets underway as they settle into their room. A knock at their door in the middle of the night teases you with thoughts of the unknown. Don’t be drawn in though as this is the best the movie gets. With the help of a randomly placed VHS tape, the Fox’s battle these unknown attackers who mean them harm. Now there is some good in this film even if the rating is so low. The motel room is drab and derelict leading to easy visions of prior multiple homicides. The attackers have that realistic vibe to them which is neat to see. They aren’t some crazy looking killers that are constructed by warped Hollywood minds. They are regular looking masked guys that want to have some fun at other people’s expense. This makes them more viable in my mind, but the scares are ultimately underwhelming and also infrequent in occurrence and that is hard to forgive.
Amy played by Kate Beckinsale and David played by Luke Wilson are okay once the film turns into the thriller parts. Once the stupid fighting dialogue stops and they focus on surviving this murderous motel they are more tolerable. Surviving the night is more enjoyable to watch when they are looking out for each other. The bad guys are cool in a generic, creepy mask wearing sort of way. Their simplistic look is easy to enjoy with so many other directors going overboard in the killer department.
It is almost as if the director knew this film wasn’t going to be scary so things get thrown at you seemingly at random. A rube cop that no one seems to care about, a horde of rats in a random location, tormenting knocks on the doors for no reason, and a host of other things that illicit little to no thrills. By the end of this film you will have tired of watching the Fox’s run around the tiny motel over and over again. You will want the bad guys to kill them or for the Fox’s to get away but most importantly you will want this forgettable thriller to end.
Director Nimrod Antal had some interesting takes in this film but for the most part forgot to add the suspense. It is easy to see a Psycho type vibe to this film but it never finds the right level of madness. Some VHS footage of people getting murdered is shockingly real and violent, and the opening sequence when the Fox’s check in also has some merit, but the rest of the film is a fail. People might like the character development to this film but I felt it was established in all the wrong places. This is not a terrible shot film but it is unremarkable.
I cannot recommend this film as Vacancy must be referring to the theatres when this was released.
T Factor + If you like thrillers than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you like lots of blood in your thrillers than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Identity, Psycho.