Community Relations Manager
KUNV 91.5 FM
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Vacancy is the perfect example of what every horror movie should do if they
want to please audiences, scare them a little then be forgotten completely
as soon as viewers throw their empty popcorn buckets away. Vacancy is a
generally good film with some great character development, very natural
actors and a relatively good script, but itís not edgy or original in any
way, so itís forgettable.
Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale play David and Amy Fox, a couple who is
embarking on their last adventure together Ė a road trip through the
mountains. Their marriage is on the rocks after their young son died in an
accident, and they constantly bicker and blame each other over everything.
Wilson and Beckinsale created good tension together as they were arguing,
which made it needling but not annoying for the audience. Amy Fox is
sleeping (because of a Prozac and Zoloft cocktail) in the car so David
decides to take a shortcut when the interstate is backed up. He gets lost in
the middle of nowhere and when he swerves to avoid hitting a raccoon, also
manages to destroy their car.
They see a small gas station and pull
up to find a young mechanic there (Ethan Embry). He canít fix the car, but
says it should work to get them to the next town, 30 miles away. Well, it
doesnít, so the tired and cranky couple has to walk back a mile to get back
to the gas station. The mechanic has gone for the night, so they go next
door to the Pinewood Motel to find a phone. Mason, the manager at the motel
(Frank Whaley) is thoroughly creepy and seemingly dumb as a box of rocks, so
the couple begins to get even angrier when they see they have no option but
to stay the night.
Mason gives the couple the honeymoon suite, and within seconds things get
creepy. Someone is calling the room incessantly and someone else is banging
on the doors, but whenever David goes to see whoís there, no one is. Once he
talks to the manager again, and the banging seems to go away, the couple
relaxes and gets ready for bed. Like many Americans, David canít sleep
without a little television to calm him down. The cable is out, and heís
forced to watch a stack of tapes in the room. As heís watching the horror
movies, he slowly realizes that they were filmed in the room and theyíre
snuff films. Real ones.
The banging noises start again, and for
a good half hour of the film the director builds up some really intensely
scary moments as a group of killers tries to kill the couple and catch it on
tape. David and Amy try every possible solution they can think of to escape.
For once I never found myself thinking how stupid these people must be to go
behind certain doors or try ridiculous plans. The plot was very well done,
in that the things the protagonists were doing made sense, and I could even
see myself doing them if I was in a similar situation. Problem is, this kind
of plot makes it hard for a build-up and resolution to be creative. It
doesnít seem like the director took many risks, so the overall feeling of
the film is nothing groundbreaking.
The best part of the film was itís
high-tension moments that didnít rely on gore or intense violence to scare
people. Some sort of twist or creative ending may have boosted the film in
my mind and made it more memorable, I think. Itís so hard to truly scare
audiences these days though, and Vacancy has some great jumpy moments and
some well-done nail-biting tension, but nothing disturbing enough to make
audiences want to stay away from rural motels.