Monday, July 09, 2007


RUNTIME: 80 min.
RATING: **1/2

I didn’t expect too much from the movie; I don’t especially expect too much from this genre these days either. And what ensued over the next hour and half wasn’t unpleasant either. It sure does come around as a promising premise but everything spirals into a series of silly plot turns that borders on insulting the intelligence, not mine but the creators’.
Horror thrillers no longer exist today. All we have at our disposal are movies like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remakes, the FINAL DESTINATION movies and the horrible HOSTEL which are not only dumb, they’re offensive. Offensive to the senses, offensive to the mind and most importantly a sin against cinema.
The first thing I would commend VACANCY and its makers for is their restraint from indulging in blood, gore and mind numbing violence. Instead they rely on old school tricks and something we know as likeable characters that is all but gone today. There is no needless sex neither is blood flying all over the place. It sure is assuring to watch people who have civilized tastes and I mean no offence to Eli Roth here. And good performances from both Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson sure do help matters.
Amy and David, right at the end of a failed marriage are on their way back when their vehicle breaks down. They manage to rent a room at a lonely inn smack in the middle of nowhere. Continuing their stay for the night at the motel, they come across snuff videos. On watching them, they realize that the snuff movies were made in the very same motel and they’re about to be part of it. The rest of it is escape.
The problem isn’t the premise. It is the execution. The movie does manage to be decently thrilling till about halfway. But once silly plot points come, everything goes awry. For starters, the villains or the psychos are least interesting. And at least in the last 20 minutes or so, it sure feels that VACANCY has overstayed its welcome. Then there’re the standard thrill techniques of sudden “boo” s and brief flashes of villains. They no longer scare you and that is something all horror makers need to get. And it works best when used sparsely and not as a stock technique. The climax left a lot to be desired. What felt as a brave decision by the makers later turned out to be another cliché. Since this is a standard above average product from the horror thriller factory, I have an advise as far as the starting credits are concerned; they roll on indefinitely and Antal would have been better served if they started out with the story with the credits rolling.
Nevertheless, a solid effort. Not bad and surely not morally reprehensible. One word: serviceable.

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