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Vacancy
DVD disk
Aug 6, 2007 By: Quigles
Vacancy order
Director:
Nimrd Antal

Actors:
Kate Beckinsale
Luke Wilson
Frank Whaley

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Attempting to hold together their failed marriage just long enough to get through the night, the breakdown of a couple's car forces them to stay at a nearby motel. Little do they know, the previous residents have all been unwilling participants in a series of snuff films, and they're next.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
For a movie that revolves around a snuff film ring, VACANCY is refreshingly torture-free. With all of the HOSTEL's and SAW's coming out recently (which look like comparative masterpieces when put alongside capitalizing crap like CAPTIVITY and I KNOW WHO KILLED ME), I've grown more than weary of seeing what others have dubbed "torture porn". In this film though, the "snuff" element is put good use, kicking off the horror scenes beautifully (gotta love them finding out they're in the same room from the tapes! creepy sh*t!), and also supplying the killers with actual motive (other than them just being psychotic hillbillies or something).

Instead of focusing on graphic death sequences, the film's tension stems from the eerily believable Hitchcockian build-up. The film also relies on the intelligence of its lead couple, as they attempt to survive the killers' cat-and-mouse games by using logic and reason. You know, as opposed to stupidity, since that's what most characters in horror flicks tend to deem appropriate.

There are times when the movie ventures into the realm of clich (particularly near the end when it devolves into a generic and anti-climactic mess), but the slickness of the direction keeps the whole thing together. Also effective are the oddly cast actors. I never would've expected Luke Wilson to be able to pull off a role that was neither wimpy nor dopey, and I especially never thought he could share good chemistry with the unbelievably hot Kate Beckinsale (who I'm pretty sure is God's way of saying that masturbation's OK). Taking into account these are characters that virtually b*tch at each other most of the runtime, they manage to be surprisingly likable. As does Frank Whaley, the quirky and creepy hotel manager (though his transformation into a hardass towards the end was borderline laughable).

Despite a lackluster ending and some irritating plot holes (like the bathroom mat being completely untouched), VACANCY is sure to please most old-school movie fans looking for an entertaining horror-thriller. It won't blow your mind, but for all its mild pleasures, it makes for a nail-bitingly fun 85-minutes.
THE EXTRAS
Fans may be disappointed with the selection of special features, but general viewers should be satisfied.

Alternate Opening Sequence (1:17): I'm so incredibly glad they didn't use this to open the movie, because the scene is lousy. It shows the police at the aftermath of the crime, investigating what happened. I hate when movies feel the need to reveal details of the ending when it's not absolutely necessary, so this being replaced with some simple typography opening credits was a smart choice.

Checking In: The Cast & Crew of Vacancy (21:38): A basic behind-the-scenes featurette with tons of interview snippets mixed with clips from the film. They discuss the movie's style, its characters, and other general details.

Mason's Video Picks: Extended Snuff Films (8:48): From a filmmaking standpoint, this would've been a lot more interesting had they not tried to gritty up the footage by intercutting static all over the place. From any other standpoint, can't really say I know why somebody would want to watch this. Morbid curiosity, perhaps?

Raccoon Encounter (1:26): A deleted scene involving the return of the raccoon. Nothing special.

There's also a whole slew of Previews, including but not limited to 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (cool), VANTAGE POINT (cool), and I KNOW WHO KILLED ME (sh*t).
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While I hesitate to compare VACANCY to Alfred Hitchcock, there are definitely times where the inspiration shines through. Disappointingly, the final block of the film falls apart somewhat, but it's not enough to spoil what came before it; that being, a taut, consistently suspenseful horror-thriller with strong performances and some inventive twists on a derivative premise. Horror fans owe it to themselves to give this a rent.
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