Director – Nimrod Antal
Cast – Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry, Scott G. Anderson, Mark Casella, David Doty
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I know I bash Hollywood a lot for them passing up so many great horror films and only releasing junk like Twatlight and The Haunting of Molly Hartley, but I will say this…I LOVE, yes LOVE it when they release a good horror film. This film really surprised me when I first saw it because I expected the typical Hollywood horror clichés and toned down brutality to appeal to a wider demographic. Well, I was wrong about this film and found it to be a really suspenseful and positive product that not only was surprisingly brutal but even starred Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. Who’da thunk???
Vacancy centers around a married couple on a road trip gone sour. They are lost and having car troubles, which forces them to check in for the night at a run down motel managed by the most pedophilic looking guy on Earth. Aside from the filthy running water and the sticky bed sheets the night is going fine for the couple, until they start hearing bands and stomps on their door and walls around them. Their please for relief go unanswered and the scenario only gets worse when the couple discovers a videotape in the TV that shows some very realistic looking murders going on in what appears to be the very room they are staying in. Soon enough they uncover a numerous amount of video cameras hidden within the room, and that is when the real fun begins.
What surprised me the most about this film is that it’s core story is one we have seen numerous times in the horror genre, yet this still had some elements I had not seen before with this type of story. I know we’ve seen films where people are recorded as they are killed but for that to take place in a hotel was something yet to be seen by my eyes. I also liked how nearly all of this film took place in the motel and it’s surrounding parking lot yet we are given a lot from such an isolated set. The underground tunnels and random characters thrown into the mix really added some spice to this film and I believe that to be a key reason why this flick fared so well.
I also applaud Nimrod Antal’s direction in this film and how he kept the pacing very tight and never let up the tension once it began. I never found myself bored or distracted with this film(I’m distracted quite easily) and that plays directly in part to what I mentioned earlier about a lot of different elements being thrown into such a simple film. Bravo to writer Mark L. smith for that. The acting performances from Luke Wilson and the ever-beautiful Kate Beckinsale were positive and both handled their roles the way they were intended to be portrayed. The kill scenes we see on the television were pretty horrific and definitely filled the viewer with a strong sense of dread when they first hit the screen. We don’t get much blood and gore from there on out but this film moves so well we don’t really need it, which I heavily respect.
Overall, this is a positive film that I suggest all horror fans give a watch to if they want to see Hollywood do something right for a change. This isn’t the most amazing film, but it sure will make you think twice the next time you contemplate staying at a run down motel in the middle of nowhere.