Vacancy Nimród Antal

Vacancy Nimród Antal

Sometimes all it takes is the threat of being tortured and murdered in a small, stuffy hotel room to bring a couple on the verge of breaking up closer together. Or so Vacancy suggests. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star as David and Amy Fox, a husband and wife travelling from a family get-together to a destination that suggests divorce. Lost in the middle of nowhere, they constantly bitch at each other (we learn the friction is mostly due to their dead son), eventually deciding to get off the road and spend the night at a dated motel run by the creepy Frank Whaley. Somewhat relaxed, David pops what appears to be a horror flick into the VHS, until he notices the room looks just like his. From that point on, he and Amy realise that they are stars of your local black market’s latest snuff film, unless they can fight their way out. Though all signs point to it being yet another gratuitous torture porn entry, the restraint of Vacancy shows that it’s something more. Antal could have gone to town with Mark L. Smith’s script and played the gore card but instead he relies on the shocking circumstances and the terror that his two leads undergo. However, Antal seems to have forgotten that there was a film made 47 years ago called Psycho, which Vacancy will always pale in comparison to. That said, he’s done what he can with his setting, and motels have been creepy ever since Hitchcock had his way with them. The idea of using video cameras as the main source of terror is something we’re all frightened of, especially in this age of YouTube, and there’s a level of claustrophobia that elevates the film. It may not appear to be anything more than a quick cash-in on the horror/thriller genre with a couple of big names attached but surprisingly, Vacancy survives its attempt to put a new spin on the motel as a deadly accommodation. The alternate opening sequence, as always, is a throwaway: it begins at the end, which would have done even less for the film. The extended snuff films make for an interesting feature, showing one of these killings going down without any hitches. Of course, it’s also pretty disturbing, considering the grainy, realistic look. A featurette talks with Antal, the producers and cast members; the director reveals that boredom from driving in New Mexico led to the film’s idea. However, it’s tough to watch Wilson and Beckinsale force their enthusiasm for the "behind the scenes” chats; they were clearly just working for their sizeable paycheques. (Sony)