Sunday, August 26, 2007

If Your DVD Players has A "Vacancy"...

I suppose it's been out on DVD about 15 minutes now, so you may have seen Vacancy if you care about dark thrillers.

If not, check it out. It's a tight, nasty little nail-biter, made interesting in part by the casting of bigish names in what might otherwise have been a direct-to-video excursion.

We're talking Psycho meets Joe Lansdale's The Night They Missed the Horror Show or maybe sorta The Nightrunners with a little bit of Mountaintop Motel Massacre .

Luke Wilson, who's great in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Kate Beckinsale, who, OK, does her share of vampire hunting so she's not exactly not a genre star but still..., are a squabbling couple on a rushed trek home from a family gathering.

They get on one of those roads you never want to get on, stop at a quick stop where the charming mechanic (Ethan Embry) promptly sabotages their car and soon they're forced to stop over at one of those no-brand motels for the night.

Frank Whaley is the creepy innkeeper who sets them up in the honeymoon suite at no extra charge.

The water's bleak but even worse, the in-room VCR is stocked with snuff films. SHOT IN THEIR ROOM! (And a brutal, edgy stack of snuff films they are.)

Things don't let up from that point.

Here's why anyone who says this movie sucks is wrong.

1. Great performances.

2. Tight, disturbing direction.

3. A script that makes a few characters and pretty much a single location work to great advantage.

4. There are few stupid movie moments. Maybe a couple, but generally the characters make reasonable decisions. They still have a hell of a time, but they don't decide to take showers after discovering a stack of snuff films.

Maybe the troubled marriage could have been a little more nuanced, but you get to like the characters fairly well fairly quickly. Time spent on Lifetime Movie Channel flashbacks would detract.

I'll stipulate there's one decision where the filmmakers decided to play nice. Could have gone either way. Could have been really cold and cruel. They went for kinder gentler.

Overall, though, gritty and engaging.

I give it three Sid heads:

Really, because it deserved it. Not just because 3 means I don't have to make another graphic.

(No rights to Vacancy image implied.)

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I figured I might like this one. I certainly enjoy watching Kate Beckinsale. Sounds like it's well worth the effort. I think I'll get it as soon as it comes on PPV.

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