Fast-paced, quick, and a movie that kept me on the edge of my seat, Vacancy is a movie that should have been more successful when it hit theatres. It reminded me of movies like Cellular and Joyride, fun and swift, with a simple yet entertaining story. They’re quick and to the point, not wasting time on superfluous subplots or bloated running times. As the movie rolls along, the tension just builds and builds, coming with some truly frightening scenes and great action.
A suspenseful, classic thriller, in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, which will keep you on the edge of your seat and your heart pounding! When David (Luke Wilson) and Amy Fox’s (Kate Beckinsale) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they are forced to spend the night at the only motel around, with only the TV to entertain them… until they discover that the low-budget slasher videos they find in their room were all filmed in the very room they’re sitting in. With hidden cameras now aimed at them… trapping them in rooms, crawlspaces, underground tunnels… and filming their every move, David and Amy must struggle to get out alive before whomever is watching them can finish their latest masterpiece.
A thriller in the vein of Hitchcock, as the above synopsis says? I can see it. I don’t agree 100%, but I do think this quick flick is definitely inspired by Hitchcock’s movies. The movie wastes little time in getting us the famed hotel where our leads will be fighting for their lives. The movie is incredibly intimate, focusing almost solely on Wilson and Beckinsale’s characters. The movie starts out with just them . . . then slowly expands to include a few more characters, never losing sight of what the movie is really about – survival. I have to admit, Vacancy does a great job at keeping you on your toes. Once the “happily” married couple settle in for the night, they start to hear loud bangs on the room door and walls. It escalates, eventually stopping as they figure out exactly what’s in store for them.
It’s no surprise that the Hotel Manager is the big creep in charge of all of this, and is obviously in cahoots with the folks at the gas station (sorry if that’s a spoiler, everyone, but why else would Ethan Embry’s name figure so prominently in the retro opening titles?). However, none of that really matters. What matters is if the two leads will survive, and they do a good job on keeping the tension cranked up, even throwing a couple curve balls along the way, Given how short the movie is, I don’t want to ruin too many of the surprises, but the movie is a great distraction for 85 minutes or so. It moves along fast, gives you the info you need to know (enough to care about the fate of the leads and hate the bad guys), and leaves you ultimately satisfied in the end. Throw in the retro opening credits, and generally retro-meets-modern feel of the movie, and you got a helluva fun movie to watch.
The DVD itself has a small collection of extras, fitting for the movie. We get an Alternate Opening Sequence, a “Checking In: The Cast & Crew of Vacancy” featurette, a Deleted Scene, and the Extended Snuff Films. Not a lot, but you don’t really need that much for this movie. It’s a simple, fairly low-budget thriller, costing roughly $19 million to make and grossing just shy of that. With foreign and DVD sales, this movie will prove to be an adequate money-maker for Sony. The DVD extras are a bit slim, but they do not really need to be extensive for this flick. The extras are good and serve there purpose, providing some behind the scenes information on the film. And that’s all you really need with a release like this, in my personal opinion.
The audio and video for the film are up to par for a standard DVD release. The audio is crisp and clear, with both the quiet dialogue and loud action scenes intact. It all sounds good to me. The video is pretty solid with only a hint of softness. Since both the full screen and widescreen transfers are on one side of the disc (and it can fit, given the movie’s short 85 minute running time), I was expecting a horrible transfer, but it’s not bad. A solid standard DVD transfer, nothing more.
In short, if you’re up for a good Saturday night movie, give Vacancy a shot. This movie comes Recommended, at least for a rental, as I doubt you’ll be disappointed. It’s a fun popcorn flick that will keep you riveted the entire time. It’s not cultured cinema, by any means, but it’s better than most of the countless theatrical and direct-to-video thrillers that get released nowadays. Wilson and Beckinsale do the best they can with their roles, grieving parents about to divorce, and the bad guys are your typical sickos. In short, it’s a successful formula that works here, plain and simple. While I can understand why the movie only generated about $19 million at the box office, Vacancy seems to be the type of movie that will definitely flourish on the shelves.
Vacancy is available on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 14th.