$2.50 Reviews: Vacancy (2007)

$2.50 Reviews:

Vacancy

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If you didn't have any aversion to cheap motels before watching Vacancy, you will afterwards. Vacancy shows us why cheap motels are to be avoided at all costs. When the car of a couple breaks down, they are forced to stay the night at one of these terrors. Greeted by the motel's creepy manager (Frank Whaley), they flip on the television and learn that the slasher flicks that are playing were actually shot in the very room they are staying in. Soon after they realize this, things start going haywire around them, and they decide they need to escape from the motel.

Hey Kate...look behind you!

That seems like an interesting premise, but what makes Vacancy different is the fact that its characters are actually grown up. This isn't a teenage slasher flick. No, the characters are adults, and have actual problems. We learn right off the bat that there is tension between them, but it isn't until later that we learn how troubled their relationship is. They aren't a happy couple, to say the least, and the fact that we find this out through quick snips at one another means we learn some of the depths of the characters before anything even happens.

Now, before anything actually happens, you can guess that one of two possible endings will happen. Either one/both of the characters die at the motel, or both live and end up reconciling due to the events that they just survived. I'm not going to say what actually happens, but instead, I'm going to suggest you watch the movie. It's not even an hour and a half long, just go watch it.

This short running time means that Vacancy needs to fit in all of its scares within a relatively short timeframe. While it does take a good portion of time at the start to build characters, it manages to fit them all in, and then some. It manages to keep its pacing tight, while not having any extraneous scenes or wasted time. Everything has a purpose, whether to make you feel for the characters, or to make you feel uncomfortable watching it.

Director Nimród Antal understands that the more you see something, the less frightening it becomes. In Vacancy, you don't often see the people who are terrorizing the couple, and you never get to see their motivations. They're essentially making snuff films, but we don't get to find out why they are doing that. In a sense, this makes the entire plot scarier. Although we do eventually see other people, and that is when the film becomes less thrilling.

For the longest time though, Vacancy has real tension. It's frequently fairly frightening, and it leaves you drained by the end. Granted, near the conclusion of the film, the film does get kind of silly, but you can at least understand how it got to that point. That's about the biggest gripe I have with the film. It ends abruptly, and it would have been nice to get a bit of an epilogue, allowing us to know what ends up happening to everyone involved.

'So, uh...which room do y'all want?'

I especially wished for this just because of how good the characters are. While you may not come to like any of them, you can at least appreciate what they go through. There is some depth there, and that's brought about by some decent acting. The couple played by Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale are fine, but the standout performance is by the hotel manager played by Frank Whaley. He's a creep, and Whaley does an excellent job bringing this across in his performance. He is almost the scariest part of the entire production, despite being on-screen far less than the actual "threat".

What is most surprising about Vacancy is the fact that blood and gore don't really play into the terror that it shows on-screen. While there are some brutal scenes, they are shown in a way that there isn't much, if any, blood. The horror of the film comes almost entirely from the psychological side of things. It's refreshing not to see buckets of gore, and makes the film unique.

Vacancy is basically what I was hoping for in a horror film. The plot is basic, the pacing is quick and the characters are interesting. While there are jump scenes, they are well placed and actually add to the film, instead of detracting from it. While the plot does get a slight bit silly near the end, it did seem like one of the better ways it could have finished. It offers some scares, and while it doesn't stick with you that long, it'll be remembered if you ever are forced to stay at a cheap, isolated motel.

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So you love us all so very much now? ;P

Interesting review of a movie I've seen most critics simply bash. I suppose in the end it IS what it took out to be:a simple, enjoyable horror film with a lot of cliches, but fun to watch.

Now try to make 3 reviews per day. DO EET.

Also, it's 'one of two endings will happen'

Sinclose:
So you love us all so very much now? ;P

Of course I do.

That was actually just a ploy. I just don't think I'll be on until late tonight, so I wanted to post this before, giving it a chance to be seen, instead of late at night.

Interesting review of a movie I've seen most critics simply bash. I suppose in the end it IS what it took out to be:a simple, enjoyable horror film with a lot of cliches, but fun to watch.

It was very enjoyable. :)

Now try to make 3 reviews per day. DO EET.

I could, but that would require a weekend, and no homework.

Also, it's 'one of two endings will happen'

I don't know what you are talking about... >_>

Marter:

I don't know what you are talking about... >_>

You can't fool me, I open 2 tabs before any editing might occur to cross check! >:D

Also, unrelated, but I finally decided what I'll review. It's gonna be a rant-cum-review though, and probably very, very long. Might be as long as this even.

Marter:
snip

Also, rejoice that 4 of your reviews are on the front page of the 'User reviews' forum!

I see you have a new opening paragraph. Tis very nice indeed.

You kind off danced around the plot for fear of saying too much about it. Sometimes it's necessary to go into a little depth about the plot as I didn't feel the actual premise was very well communicated, and when it comes to horror movies premise is everything.

And now that I have bumped both your reviews, I must go and write my Paranormal Activity one.

I only saw one really, and two silly's! :D I like the new opening paragraph too. You come off far more sure of what you're saying in this review, which in turn helps the reader feel sure about what to take from it.

I haven't seen this movie for... a very long time, so I think I will watch it again. Sadly, there aren't a lot of horror films that avoid showing too much in order to preserve the fear, so it'll be refreshing.

zombiesinc:
I like the new opening paragraph too.

FargoDog:
I see you have a new opening paragraph. Tis very nice indeed.

Goodie, so the new paragraph thing worked. =D Good to hear!

Yes I'm commenting on this a few months late. Oh well, I just saw it last night for the first time.

First, I agree about the end. I thought it was stupid and way too far fetched. I also agree about the manager. He was very well acted. (THis may sound strange but his old man glasses and awful hair just made him that much creepier.)

However, I felt like there wasn't enough characterization. Especially between the second and third act, almost nothing happens between the couple. They must become partners to outwit the bad guys so the last exchange between them kind of made me roll my eyes.

All in all, great review! I don't agree with everything you said, but you still brought your points across clearly and concisly.

 

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