Newest Review: ... orchestral which in parts wanders off into something more avant-garde. On my copy of the DVD, the sound levels for the speech of the... more
This is no ordinary motel...
Member Name: GentleGenius
Advantages: Well-acted, good initial build-up, atmospheric
Disadvantages: Predictable, gets slightly boring from the halfway point onwards
RELEASED: 2007, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 85 mins
DIRECTOR: Nimrod Antal
PRODUCER: Hal Lieberman
SCREENPLAY: Mark L Smith
MUSIC: Paul Haslinger
Luke Wilson as David Fox
Kate Beckinsale as Amy Fox
Frank Whaley as Mason
FILM ONLY REVIEW
David and Amy are driving somewhere late at night, and for some reason David decides to veer off the highway and take an unfamiliar route which he hopes will be quicker. After driving for some while, the tank gets low on petrol, so he pulls in at a very remote filling station. Whilst there and finding the place closed, the proprietor who is still hanging around, advises David and Amy to drive to another station about 20 miles along the road.
After travelling for just a short while, the car runs out of petrol, so David and Amy walk back to the filling station to see if the proprietor can help them further, and once there, they spot a motel next door and decide to see if they can spend the night there.
The motel is run by a strange man, and there don't seem to be any other guests. Whilst waiting to be booked in, David and Amy hear the sounds of screaming coming from behind the reception desk, but it turns out to be a video that the odd man is watching.
The man shows David and Amy to a very tatty, dirty room which Amy is horrified by, but David assures her they only have to spend a few hours there sleeping, then they'll be on their way.
As David and Amy try to settle for the night, they are disturbed by a strange, very loud banging noise coming from the next room. Also, when there is a knock on the door and David goes to answer it, nobody is there.
Feeling a little uneasy, David notices a pile of VHS tapes, so he plays one, hoping it'll be something to watch that will help him sleep. When the video starts to play, both he and Amy are horrified to see it is a film of the very room they are in, with various people being brutally tortured and abused.
It is then that it becomes obvious not all is right at the motel, as when David tries to complain about the noise to the man at reception, he finds him of no help, being told that he (David) and Amy are the only guests at the motel.
Sensing they could be in danger, David and Amy have to hatch an escape plan which isn't as simple, due to them having temporarily abandoned their car with an empty fuel tank.
Although the above seems a lengthy précis, it merely sets the scene for all that follows in the film.
Straight away, it is obvious that David and Amy aren't getting on too well together, and as they are driving, their conversation indicates they are on the verge of divorcing. There is reference to a bereavement, which judging by the dialogue, I assume they have lost a child.
I really didn't like the character of Amy at all, as I found her to be scratchy, hostile and not very nice to David who seems really easy-going and nice. However, Kate Beckinsale did play Amy's part very well, as did Luke Wilson convey the part of David, a soon to be ex-husband trying to civil and nice to his soon to be ex-wife.
As the storyline progresses and various things happen, Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson work superbly together, bouncing off one another almost as if were made for their parts. I was particularly impressed by their facial expressions as they flung little digs in one another's direction, each not particularly wanting to be with the other but are forced together by circumstance, yet when they find themselves in possible danger, are able to cohere and support one another well.
My overall favourite cast member though was Frank Whaley who played the part of Mason, the strange motel receptionist/manager. He managed to project one of those personalities whereby when you meet someone, although they look fairly normal, there is something about them you can't quite put your finger on that isn't right. Mason as a motel manager doesn't quite slot into the Norman Bates category as he is less initially accommodating than Bates, but he for me excelled in this role, coming across as a little odd around the edges to begin with, that aura increasing in severity as the film progresses.
The music to Vacancy I found to be a little over the top, it being a mixture of high-tension, dramatic orchestral which in parts wanders off into something more avant-garde. On my copy of the DVD, the sound levels for the speech of the cast is set quite low, and I found at certain points during the film, the music drowned out a little of what the actors were saying.
The atmosphere is very well set right from the start of Vacancy, exuding a sinister aura where the tension continues to mount once David and Amy realise they are shacked up for the night in what probably is the motel from hell.....an old-fashioned place, dark, gloomy, tattily furnished, dirty, grimy and run by a person whose behaviour seems disturbingly unpredictable. The tension between David and Amy as a soon to be divorced couple is also very well put across.
However, from about the halfway point in Vacancy, although I didn't lose interest, I found my boredom levels increasing as I found David's and Amy's efforts to extricate themselves from what was happening and make a getaway, to be predictable, as in essence, such really isn't all that different to any other film where people are trying to escape from something. I'm not sure what could have put a spark into that second half of Vacancy other than perhaps a move away from the 'norm' and to have written a storyline which is different to all the others.
There were a couple of points within Vacancy where I jumped slightly, but they happened during the first half of the film when the tension was rising high. It was very good though to see something in this genre which contains not absolute zero, but very minimal levels of blood and other grisly stuff.
Overall, I probably would recommend Vacancy as especially during the earlier part, it is quite gripping, its overall advantage for me being a very well set atmosphere that up until the creepier parts get underway, is very realistic and true to life. This film would probably appeal to fans of horror/adventure, although I'd urge not to expect anything stunningly original once the action gets underway. I'm not sorry I saw Vacancy as it is a well-acted, atmospheric and well constructed film which initially has a sinister feel to it, but I don't think I'd re-visit for second helpings....although were it from mid-point onwards more interesting, I just might.
At the time of writing, Vacancy can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.00 to £23.97
Used: from 1p to £7.99
Collectible: only one copy currently available @ £1.92
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: Well worth a watch