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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Vacancy - review

"check in... never check out!? - but why bother..."

Vacancy (15)
Dir. Nimród Antal

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome to the Pinewood Motel – a picturesque little guesthouse, ideally placed miles from civilisation where you can get away from it all, just don’t plan on ever going home… Yes we’re knee deep in Norman Bates Psychoville territory here, updated for the noughties to include added snuff film nastiness and the ‘gorgeous but ever so slightly dull’ Kate Beckinsale. Hotshot Hungarian director Nimród ‘Kontroll’ Antal takes an intriguingly grim premise - twisted motel owner films the violent murders of his ‘guests’ for profit and after a decent opening set up that ups a considerable amount of tension, bottles out of delivering anything worth wasting your time on.
Vacancy obviously has aspirations to be mentioned in the same sentence as hardcore horror efforts like Hostel but simply hasn’t got the conviction to deliver the required chills. It’s all very well to tease sickos with over the shoulder glimpses of videos depicting the grisly demise of previous residents but the only gruesomeness actually offered up is the shocking unbelievable family friendly ending.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a horror film ‘lite’ like this – as long as you know what you’re getting into from the beginning i.e. lots of running, hiding and clichéd moments that you can see coming a mile away.
So we get to join grieving couple David and Amy, who are planning to break up following the death of their son, however things get a bit spicy when they find themselves lined up to have inadvertent roles in a real life snuff movie. But it’s incredible what battling for your life together can do for your relationship and so don’t be too surprised if there’s a reconciliation in the offing – if they can just live that long. In fact you could probably even market couple counselling courses based on the ‘run for your lives or end up dead on video footage for weirdos’ concept? Hhhmm, no maybe not.
The cast stumble through the predictable plot elements – creepy manager (Frank Whaley), team of tooled up psychopathic wackos waiting to slaughter the unsuspecting guests, hidden cameras ready to record their demise etc.
In the end however, Vacancy is as mainstream as it’s possible to get with a storyline like this and whilst it is competently put together it won’t be remembered as a classic slasher horror by any means.I was hoping to at least be a little bit terrified and possibly grossed out too; instead I ended up just slightly bored which can’t be a good sign.

Out of 5 you have to go with a 2 (one mark for the concept, one more for the opening half an hour)...

Darkmatters ratings:

Action ööö – some but not enough
Laughs ö – very few
Horror ööö – not enough for this genre
Babes ööö – I still fancy Beckinsale

Overall öö (less than the sum of its parts)

"Kate looks for her agent - for some 'negotiation' about getting her this part"

Darkmatters: H O M E
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Anonymous said...

I thought it deserved 2

Anonymous said...

You missed the point. Vacancy is an old-school horror film ... you're supposed to root for the protagonists to survive, not wait to see the next brutal execution. The director effectively tweaks up the tension a little at at time, gives us characters who are neither idiots nor docilely lining up to be the next victims. The Foxes fight back with as much cunning and strength as they can against the odds.

I thought the ending was a little rushed and I'd have liked to know a bit more about the bad guys. But out of five, I give it a solid 3 1/2.