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Vacancy (2007)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Sadistic Horror
Director:
Nimród Antal Nimród Antal
Starring:
Kate Beckinsale Kate Beckinsale
Luke Wilson Luke Wilson
Frank Whaley Frank Whaley
Ethan Embry Ethan Embry
Scott Anderson Scott Anderson
User Lists:
> Worst Films of 2007

5.3 / 10 - 12 votes

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Review by Chad
Added: August 27, 2007
I've stayed in some pretty shitty hotels in my time: I remember one in particular that came complete with brown sheets and toilets that weren't even attached to the floor (needless to say, we cut our losses and left after an hour). After watching this film, I've come to realize that maybe that little roach-infested building wasn't quite so bad; after all, at least it didn't have a bunch of Manhunt-obsessed geeks running around outside.

The storyline for this one centers around Amy (Kate Beckinsale) and David Fox (Luke Wilson), a couple who are on the brink of divorce and a few steps short of downright hating one another. They find themselves headed to one last family get-together before they break the news to everyone, but as is the case in any cross-country trip, David decides to get off the interstate and take a shortcut. When will people learn that shortcuts never pay off in the long run? The car eventually breaks down (do cars ever work for more than ten minutes in these movies?), they can't get any reception for their cell phone (do those things ever work?), and they soon find themselves stationed in front of a run-down hotel in the middle of nowhere (what, were you expecting the Hilton?).

Upon obtaining a room and settling down for the night, they discover two things: one, the room isn't much better than that shithole I mentioned in my opening paragraph, and two, there's no cable for the television. There is, however, a VCR and plenty of unlabeled video tapes, so David grabs one of them and pops it in with hopes of finding some cheap porn. What he discovers is that the tape contains a snuff movie, and to make things just a little more interesting, the "movie" appears to have been shot in the room that they're currently holed up in. The power then goes out, there's a bang on the door, and we have ourselves a movie.

The first major gripe that I had in regards to this film is the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson. The two never once come across as former lovers, but instead, they came across as just what they were: two Hollywood A-listers stuck together in one film. There's zero chemistry here, and the characters that they play certainly didn't help that. Were we supposed to get attached to these characters, or were we supposed to root for the killers? Was Kate's character really supposed to be that much of a bitch? You may think that this is a minor thing, but when the vast majority of the film takes place in the confines of a small hotel room with two characters, it's probably a good idea to have two characters that the audience can identify with or at least care about - that wasn't the case here.

Instead, we get Kate Beckinsale playing a woman who is the absolute definition of "bitch" towards her soon-to-be ex-husband, and when she isn't grating on the audience's nerves in that way, she's doing all of the classic horror no-no's that will have you groaning in disbelief. If your husband tells you to be quiet so that you don't give away your position, why would you scream? That sort of thing is a constant with her character, and although I can't blame this solely on the actress, it was definitely a huge strike against the movie. Then we have Luke's character, who isn't quite so bad, but he's just sort of... there. We never really care for him and we never give a damn whether he lives or dies, and again, this is more of a strike against the actual character rather than the actor playing him. These two characters could have worked with a better director, but sadly, they failed miserably here.

It's not a complete bust though, as I actually enjoyed the film more than I probably should have. The concept is great (and was the sole reason I ignored the bad reviews and picked up the movie in the first place), and it mostly plays out in the way one would expect. Yes, it goes a little overboard in spots and yes, it requires that you suspend disbelief just a little too much in spots, but it does deliver the goods for the most part. My only real complaint about this aspect of the film is the fact that, while it may not be an actual horror film, it certainly relies on all of the worn out horror clichés. You know the ones that I mean, and this will lead to just about all of the "surprise" scenes playing out for an audience who is thinking "I bet he... yep, I called that one." Oh, and that Hollywood "send the audience home happy" ending? Come the fuck on.

Again, I did enjoy the film more than I probably should have, but don't take that as a glowing recommendation: Vacancy is far from a classic or even a great film, but when it winds up in the bargain bin in a couple of months, you could do much worse. 4/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 08/27/2007, 01:13 AM
I kind of had the same reaction. I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would, but it was far from a classic. They seemed like they were trying to take this whole Hitchcockian premise and bring it into 2007, but I didn't buy Luke Wilson in the lead role. I think Frank Whaley was fantastic and it was nice to see him used again, because he is truly an underrated character actor. It was, however, nice to see another PG-13 rated picture manage to delight me more than expected, much like "1408". A lot can be said for good old fashioned suspense. I will equal your score -- 4/10.
Strait Killa #2: Strait Killa - added 08/27/2007, 08:07 PM
i may be wrong, but i believe this movie was Rated R
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 08/27/2007, 08:15 PM
You are correct. My mistake. The film is rated R. Whoopsy.
Strait Killa #4: Strait Killa - added 08/27/2007, 08:19 PM
its quite alright, just don't want to confuse the people
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #5: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 05/02/2008, 08:20 AM
I didn't plan on watching this one since I hated the idea of Luke Wilson starring in a horror film, but somehow I was persuaded to rent it. In the end, my low expectations were much surpassed, and I don't think it deserves as much flak as it has gotten. I found no problems with the main characters and their chemistry as they seemed to be quite normal given their relationship (having lost a son and ready to sign divorce papers). Actions made and turns in the plot came off as just and fairly plausible to me, no matter the cliché they may have been. On top of the suspense, Frank Whaley's performance was great and made the film more fun to watch.
7.7/10
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