MOVIE: Vacancy (2007)

When this movie first started, I was pretty sure it was going to be really, really bad. Here’s the story: A married couple going through a divorce after losing a child (yawn!) is on one last road trip when they make several of the most standard “scary movie” mistakes in a row:

1. They get off the main road to take a “faster” back road instead.

2. They pull into an ancient gas station in the middle of nowhere and let the shady-looking, lone gas station attendant work on their engine.

3. When their car dies a mile later, they are not only surprised (I sure wasn’t!) but they actually GO BACK to the gas station on foot.

4. Finding the gas station now closed, they stupidly take a room in the ultra-creepy hotel next door.

Dude, seriously? Please tell me this isn’t the best this movie has to offer?

Surprisingly, things actually improved a bit after that in terms of plot. Once in the room, the couple discovers a stack of videotapes, each of which appears to feature a snuff film (“snuff films” are homemade movies of real people being killed). After watching for a few moments, they come to a sick realization — each movie is set in their very hotel room which, they soon realize, is covered in hidden cameras. What could’ve progressed from there into a fairly standard slasher flick instead takes a couple of fairly successful turns, as the couple attempts to outwit, outplay, and outlast their attackers.

Is it brilliant? Not even close. But I was on the edge of my seat for a few parts and though it’s obviously a violent movie about people being stalked and killed, it doesn’t have a ton of blood and gore in it which was sort of a nice change as well. (I will confess, however, to being somewhat creeped out by the fact the “special features” section of the DVD contained extended versions of the (fake) “snuff films” shown briefly in the movie, but I guess the fact I rent horror movies to begin with means I can’t really get all Little Miss Morality about this. Nevertheless, there was something about the fact they were really called “snuff films” in the special features section that made it feel somehow more squicky, though I recognize that doesn’t really make all that much sense.)

Anyway, if you’re a fan of thriller/horror movies, you might consider giving this one a try. Kate Beckinsale irritated me as much as she typically does, but Luke Wilson was pretty good. Ethan Embry only had a small role and, in my opinion, was woefully miscast here, but it’s still always a pleasure to see him because he’s just so darn cute!

Genre: Thriller/Horror

Cast: Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Ethan Embry, Frank Whaley

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