Director: Nimród Antal
Night, dirt road in the middle of nowhere, a bickering couple. Their car breaks down (of course) and they check into a rundown motel (of course…again). Do they then hump like Ecstasy fueled horny rabbits? Nope they don’t. Do they get chased by loons in masks who have a penchant for snuffy-snuff-snuff? YOU BET!
If we stay in here, we're gonna wind up like all of them - David
Is it me or was VACANCY treated like an unwanted, one legged and red-headed stepwhore by the powers that be? The marketing campaign and the push behind the film were a lot like me in the sack after a face-off with a bottle of bourbon; limp and impotent. It’s too bad, cause although far from novel; I got some easy strokes from this easy rider.
Where VACANCY lacked in terms of an original premise and unexpected plot turns, more than made up for it via an unyielding demeanor, oppressive suspense (All about the early door knocking shite…ouch!) and a handful of effective chilling bits. You can’t get much simpler than this slim-fast genre shake! I wonder if there was more to it before the big corporate editing scissors snipped in? No matter, as-is the flick was: set-up, extended chase/stalk sequence – conclusion. The upside of that: I was never given the chance to even think of being bored. The flick just kept stacking one visceral tension laced sequence on top of another! Every time I thought it would go on a Kit Kat Break; some masked nut would pop goes the psycho to get the horror rolling again. I respect that!
The fact that the hero couple on the run was played by the finer than wine spilled between a hooker's butt cheeks Kate Beckinsale and the always affable Luke Wilson also chipped in to make this watch an engaging one. Both came off as fairly sympathetic while the film gave us enough meat on them and their relationship for me to give a damn. It then let the dire circumstance gap the rest with gusto. Tag to all some brilliant shot compositions (the framing here wowed me many o times), infectiously bleak atmosphere draping the whole, seldom yet well timed humor (mostly coming from witty Wilson) and a pulse pounding score that kicked my ass all over my padded room and you get a lean and mean nail-biting triggering machine.
Now if VACANCY had upped the ante on its subject matter; it could’ve been one for the grail. The “snuff” angle was sadly played down, in a sanitized fashion at that. It was solely there to act as a starting pistol for the stalk and chase to get going. If pushed further; it would’ve made for a scarier, more disturbing and powerful experience if you ask me. Same went for the connect the dots narrative structure! Anybody that’s seen one of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies will know where this one is going on all counts before it does. The last block in particular was as see-through as they come! Finally, the film did pull a couple cop-outs and “dumb moves” to serve the plot. Nothing critical but it needed to be said.
With that gift wrapped and stabbed clean into your melon, I’ll stop whining about what Vacancy wasn’t and praise it for what it was: a straight forward, gripping and non stop exercise in creepiness and thrills. Déjà vu? Yes. But it was mucho proficient at what it did and that counts for a lot! So you gonna check in and knock boots with this one or what? The rooms are cheap! What am I rambling about? WHO CARES!
The snuff theme and the bloodshed were implied as opposed to shown. We get some light plasma; gun shot wounds and off-screen stabbings. Nothing your pet poodle couldn’t handle.
Kate Beckinsale (Amy) made it happen as the wounded and semi bitchy dame with the most. And yes, she’s damn photogenic! YUM! Luke Wilson (David) let loose the token Wilson charm and gave me an “every man” I could root for, relate to and laugh with. It’s always gnarly to witness the criminally underrated Frank Whaley (Mason) do his thing, especially when a nifty moustache and Coke Bottle glasses are backing him up. Ethan Embry (Mechanic) punched in with talent and then punched out; not much of a part.
T & A
If a couple of booby side shots gets a rise out of ya, well, rise away! Me? I just gawked at Beckinsale's sexy mouth...
I’ve never heard of director Nimród Antal before (although I have been called a nimrod many o times, with good reasons) but did value his inventive/stylish shot compositions, the dark feel he imbued the film with (armed with a great DOP of course) and his obvious gift at generating, sustaining and milking tension. Talented duder! I hope he sticks with the genre!
At first, we get a spooky and low key score that set just the right mood. Later on it went full-on aggressive, loud and nerve wracking! Worked on me!
VACANCY was far from innovative and fairly predictable. But there was something magical about its utter simplicity. It did what it had to do with vigor and flair while rarely giving me the time to take a breather yet alone massage my cachous. The film went for the kill early and then managed to sustain a high level of suspense till the very end. You gotta respect that! It’s hard to pull off! Sure further shockers and emphasis on its horror (i.e. snuff thing) could’ve elevated it beyond vacuous good times status, but in my simpleton world; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with vacuous good times. I had a blast!
Screenwriter Mark L. Smith also wrote and helmed the Adrian Paul starring SEANCE.
Word on the street is that Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson didn't get along on set.
CHECK IN THE VACANCY OFFICIAL SITE HERE