Reviews

Vacancy

3

Or: I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with Hitch… After the ’cocky pastiche of Vacancy’s title sequence, we reach an off-the-track motel with a sharp-eyed manager (Frank Whaley), stuffed birds on the counter and peekaboo cameras spying on bickering couple Amy and David Fox (Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson) in the honeymoon suite. When the lights go out, you won’t be in the dark. Dragging Psycho into an age of surveillance-themed torture porn and scary rented rooms (see 1408), Nimród Antal’s thriller lights its way by reference points.

And it works, to a point. Antal, who made decently odd Hungarian comedy-thriller Kontroll, helms lean: no time is wasted before masked assailants pound on the Foxes’ door. Wilson and Beckinsale are unusually grown-up for this type of trouble, too: he’s nicely weathered and she shows more fortitude than some horror-harassed teen. Screaming at cockroaches? Oh no. A fast-rising sense of dread accompanies the discovery of snuff movies in the couple’s room – and it ain’t because they’re on VHS not DVD…

Horror hounds will be happy to know there’s eight minutes of extended snuffery on the disc, along with a 20-minute puff-piece. A standard release then, for a fairly standard film. When the camera pulls back to reveal who’s watching the Foxes, Vacancy foregoes slow-burn tension for automatic-pilot chase mode. It’s solid enough for short-stay Saturday-night entertainment. But let’s hope the talented Antal doesn’t wind up stuck here.

 

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