Vacancy 2: The First Cut Eric Bross

Successfully completing the nearly impossible task of making such straight-to-DVD fare as Boogeyman 3 and Joy Ride 2 seem like innovative high art, the Vacancy prequel is one of the most poorly paced and maladroit horror films made with studio involvement in some time. The lack of tension that results from the mostly incongruous and unplanned, hand-held, guerrilla-style filming only heightens the fact that most of the film consists of poorly written exposition, without enough actual footage, and incompetent editing. Given the simplistic and effective template of the original Vacancy film, and the high capability of lead actress Agnes Bruckner, this is very unfortunate, suggesting that the production team is unfamiliar with genre filmmaking, embarrassingly referencing Orson Welles and Frank Capra on the commentary track. Much blame is placed on the 19-day production schedule, which indeed explains the lack of footage but doesn't elucidate on the complete lack of vision. On the plus side, the order of the kills and subsequent outcome of the film are not entirely predictable, which may keep some viewers engaged. Designed as an origin story for the killers in Vacancy, The First Cut details two motel owners, Gordon and Reece (David Moscow and Brian Klugman), who hide cameras in motel rooms and sell the documented sexcapades to a white trash porn pimp (David Shackelford). When a murder is committed in the monitored motel room by Smith (Scott G. Anderson), the porn pair make the unrealistic leap to hocking snuff films of their guests, with the help of their newfound serial killer buddy. As the first tenants, young couple Jessica and Caleb (Agnes Bruckner and Trevor Wright), along with their wisecracking friend Tanner (Arjay Smith), battle the inexperienced killers for their lives. Included on the DVD are two brief featurettes on set construction and the "making of," along with a feature-length commentary with director Eric Bross, actors David Moscow and Agnes Bruckner, along with some producers, which is standard and at times, inappropriately amusing. (Sony)