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Vacancy (2007)

  Tags: couple, Ethan Embry, Frank Whaley, Kate Beckinsale, killer, Luke Wilson, motel, Nimród Antal, Scott G. Anderson, suspense, Vacancy

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Nimród Antal
80 minutes
Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry, Scott G. Anderson

When the project was first announced early last year, Simon West (When a Stranger Calls '06) was set to direct, with Sarah Jessica Parker starring opposite Luke Wilson. Before production could properly get started, Simon West was gone and replaced by the fairly unknown, but talented, Nimród Antal, and Sarah Jessica Parker also left, supposedly due to "personal reasons," and was replaced by the lovely Kate Beckinsale.

I'm sure these changes made this a better film, because I personally can't see SJP doing a movie like this, and I'm sure it would have been a fairly different film had Simon West sill been involved -- all the tension the film delivered definitely wouldn't have been as effective. Budgeted at an estimated $20-million, Vacancy hit theaters in the US on April 20th to moderate numbers and mixed reviews. Somehow, despite the over-used premise, the movie surprised a lot of people; myself included.

The film follows a young bickering couple, who are lost on their way back from their parents, when (of course) they have a little car trouble on a secluded road in the middle of the night. Naturally, after failing to fix the vehicle, they're forced to spend the rest of the night at a local (and very shady) motel. Stained sheets on the bed, chocolate milk coming from the faucet, and static on every channel, could things get any worse?

Apparently they can -- the couple decide to play the VHS tapes that are laid out on top of the VCR, only to discover that the seemingly cheesy horror films they are watching are of actual people being murdered in a room very similar to theirs. After discovering that these tapes are genuine, the lights start to flicker and all hell breaks loose. Now the couple have to fend for their lives before they become more bodies in the pile of snuff tapes.

With a clichéd premise like this the movie already has a mark against it. Now the only way for it to redeem itself from becoming just another tired plot, is to give us something fresh or worth talking about after the credits roll. In my opinion Vacancy definitely delivers, thanks to the creative directing by Nimród Antal and his excellent use of suspense and tension throughout most of the movie. Considering the short running time and a cast of a mere handful of characters, the film picks up immediately after the couple check into the motel.

There's a definite sense of realism that the movie offers that's normally not apparent in other films. They could have gone for the torture and excessive gore-angle that a lot of flicks in the genre are leaning towards lately, but instead, they decide to focus all their scares around these very average people trying their hardest to survive in the direst of situations. Aside from blood and stabbings, there really isn’t any gore in the movie. Yes, the film is predictable, and there are a few angels they could have expanded upon, but regardless, the movie is an affective thriller that doesn’t require boo-scares, a long-haired ghost, or a lot of blood and guts to capture its viewers.

Despite a couple plot-holes and a seemingly abrupt ending, the movie will likely keep viewers on the edge of their seats from the moment the leads step foot in the room, to the moment the credits roll. Worth a check.

Posted on June 15, 2010 - 11:27am | FrighT MasteR