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Monday, April 30, 2007

Vacancy (2007)

Nimrod Antol’s latest thriller, Vacancy, is a simple little movie about a snuff film business run out of a motel. Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson play Amy and David Fox, two miserable soon-to-be divorcees who are traveling the back roads of California by car. David wanders off the Interstate looking for a shortcut. Naturally, the car breaks down and the two are stranded at a squalid and seamy motel run by Mason (Frank Whaley, who looks like a white trash Norman Bates in his trucker cap and wire-rimmed aviator glasses). You would think that Amy and David would flee when they hear screaming emanating from the manager’s office in the lobby, but no, they take the honeymoon suite and end up the stars of a real-live snuff film.

With Vacancy, Antol proves himself to be a more than capable director. The pace is brisk, the visuals are interesting and the shots are thoughtfully composed for maximum suspense. The only big problem with Vacancy is that it has no cause to exist. We have seen it all before, in films like Psycho, Identity, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Vacancy almost reaches the point of campy parody, but does not inject enough humor and self-awareness into the screenplay to quite pull it off. The plot, performances and dialogue are all so average in every way that the film will, undoubtedly, fall into that deep dark pit of obscurity reserved for mediocre suspense films. Deep down, I was hoping that the unlikely snuff scenario would turn out to be some sort of bizarre futuristic marital counseling (like a trust-building ropes course or wilderness weekend or what not) designed to reunite the feuding couple. Lamentably, this is not the case.

The amount of money I would pay to see this film: $4


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