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Vacancy (2007)

A movie directed by Nimród Antal

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Plenty Of Room For Improvement

  • Oct 2, 2007
  • by
Director Nimrod Antal broke out the Cliff's Notes on Hitchcock when he put "Vacancy" on the screen. From the frantic music in the beginning to a story littered with bizarre angles and dark corners, you'll see the legend's thumbprint throughout this film. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale play a couple on the edge of divorce who's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. A friendly (perhaps too friendly) mechanic (Ethan Embry) fixes them up just enough to make it to a larger town. Unfortunately his mechanical skills leave them stranded once again, and they are forced to stay in a run-down motel under the management of Frank Whaley (in full creepy guy regalia).

Once they get into their dilapidated room, Wilson decides to watch a few VHS tapes left on top of the television. What he and Beckinsale soon realize is that the "movies" they are watching all seem to have been filmed in their room. From there, the movie begins to pick up the pace. Wilson and Beckinsale have to dodge the attacks of two killers trying to add them to the latest film.

There are a number of problems that I found with this film. Firstly, there isn't very much original about it. Antal literally lifted a number of ideas from Hitchcock. Wilson and Beckinsale open the movie with a long and boring midnight ride where they bicker with each other. I'm assuming that this is to build interest in their characters, but they really aren't that likeable. In fact, Whaley is the only real standout in the cast. His character is sinisterly whacky. Ethan Embry does pretty good with the minimal lines he's given. The action in the film is tense at moments, but you soon get the feeling that you've seen it all before. In the end, the movie does slightly redeem its forgettable first act, but it's not worth more than three stars in my book.

The extras on the DVD are par for the course. The highlight of the special features is a "making of" featurette in which we get a peek at how the film came to be. It's a little self-serving, but most featurettes like this are. If you feel like it, the snuff films that Wilson and Beckinsale watch during the film can be watched in their entirety, but they really aren't worth it.

In short, this movie has a bland opening that nearly kills the film. The story does manage to hold one's interest once the killers enter the picture, but I'd only consider "Vacancy" to be a rental and nothing more.

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More Vacancy (2007) reviews
review by . May 20, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
            VACANCY      When this film was first released in trailer format I was kinda excited because it looked extremely interesting. I was also interested in seeing how the stars they went with would perform in this film. Still even if they were not all that great I had a feeling the story alone would be cool. I was very right as it turns out because I love these types of flicks, they feel so real since stuff like this actually happens. …
Quick Tip by . May 20, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The thing that I am sure most will agree on was the miscasting. Lesser known actors would have been great here I am sure. This is one of those flicks that with a less preconceived image of an actor you go in with the better the film will feel. At least that is what I think, who knows, could be wrong.
review by . August 16, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
VACANCY may not be the best thriller of the year, though it does provide three good performances from Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley and a surprise serious role for fine comedian Luke Wilson, but it stands apart from many by the fact that it unveils a piece of the underbelly of crime by addressing the creation of snuff films (films made by strange minds that show the death of the actors, and whether or not we like to believe it, there is an audience for that!). The fact that the film (as shown in …
About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #32
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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A confined setting is a useful tool for thriller-makers, and Vacancy is definitely boxed in: a rundown motel way, way off the Interstate, the kind of place where unsuspecting movie characters go to get stabbed to death in the shower. If Vacancy doesn't quite live up to its Hitchcockian forbears, at least it provides 80 minutes of well-designed mayhem. You know somebody's paying attention just from the opening credits, a clever vortex with pounding music by Paul Haslinger. Then we meet unhappy couple Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, driving along in the dark and forced to stay at the Pinewood Motel after a car breakdown. There's a night man (Frank Whaley, decadent) in the tradition of Dennis Weaver's Touch of Evil gargoyle, but the real mess of trouble is waiting in room number 4. Director Nimrod Antal, who scored a stylish international hit with the Hungarian thriller Kontroll, squeezes maximum juice out of the Route 66 atmosphere of the motel, although the movie doesn't get under your skin the way Kontroll did. Wilson and Beckinsale are a little too marquee-namish for this kind of heavy-breathing work, and the script doesn't give them much to play with. But hey, it's not that kind of movie. Where it really belongs is on the top half of a drive-in double bill, or maybe as a nightmare-scenario TV movie from the Seventies. Either way, it works. --Robert Horton

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Director: Nimród Antal
Screen Writer: Mark L. Smith
DVD Release Date: August 14, 2007
Runtime: 85 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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