I am a funny kind of horror movie
viewer. I'm squeamish, hate seeing people suffer (even when I
know it's fictional) and my heart always races even through the title
sequence when nothing more scary has happened than peoples names moving
along the screen. But for some reason. I love watching them. And I sit
here a shaking wreck after just having watched Vacancy, I can tell you
it's one of the better ones I've seen.
The fillm begins with David (Luke Wilson) and Amy Fox (Kate
Beckinsale), a married couple who's relationship is in turmoil after
the loss of their son, driving along in the middle of the night, and it
transpires they are lost. They pull into a petrol station and ask the
man to help them, which he does. A couple of miles along the road the
car breaks down and David remembers they saw a motel (conveniently!) by
the garage, so they go and ask the ridiculously creepy looking manager
when the mechanic will be back. As it is not until morning, they
relunctantly decide to stay in the Twenty-First century's answer to the
Their room is horrible, there are cockroaches running around and the
tap runs muddy. However they are greatful for a place to stay and are
just starting to accept the disgusting surroundings when they find
films of people being brutally murdered set in a very familiar setting.
Their motel room.
The thing that really sets this appart from other films is the leading
couple. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale make you really care about
these characters and want them to succeed. They are a lot more three
dimensional than the average characters in a film like this. They are
also a lot more clever. Obviously if men were trying to kill you in a
motel room where there was apparently no way out then your brain
wouldn't be funcitoning entirely normally, but in the case of David and
Amy, they made significantly fewer mistakes than a lot of people would
The acting is brilliant,which really helped to convey the history and
feeling between the two of them quickly,which was important as there
wasn't a lot of screen time dedicated to revealing their backstory.
I've said it before and i'll say it again - the motel manager, played
by Frank Whaley, is terrfically creepy. In a film with such a small
cast, having a villain just as scary as he was, is a lot more effective
than teems of blood sucking zombies.
Vacany is often wrongly classified as a 'Slasher', it's not, there is
very little 'slashing'. This film get its screams from tension
building. Right from the beginning, where the mechanic jumps up, there
is no respite. There is a lot borrowed from 'The Bumper Book of Horror
Movie Cliches', the creepy hotel, no signal on their mobiles, car
trouble etc. But with very clever direction, these things become just
as scary to watch in this film as the very first time you ever saw them.
The only thing that takes away from the brilliance of Vacancy, is the
ending. It really does undo all the work Nimrod Antal has done in
making the film as credible as possible. But it still isn't enough to
take away from how scary the whole of the rest of the film is and how
it took a good half an hour for me to start to breath normally again. A