More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.56%
Worth A Look40.68%
Average: 25.42%
Pretty Bad: 16.95%
Total Crap: 3.39%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Darlin' by Jay Seaver

Astronaut (2019) by Jay Seaver

White Storm 2: Drug Lords, The by Jay Seaver

Vivarium by Jay Seaver

Art of Self-Defense, The by Jay Seaver

Crawl by Peter Sobczynski

Swallow by Jay Seaver

Perfection, The by Rob Gonsalves

Luce by Jay Seaver

Last Black Man in San Francisco, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

[] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"Pull up a nightmare and hang on for dear life"
5 stars

There’s something to be said about efficiency, especially in a spooky suspense picture. There’s no berry sweeter than a chiller that doesn’t allow itself to be swallowed by excess or indulgence. “Vacancy” is a furious get-in-and-get-out viewing experience, and it’s a humdinger of a thrill ride.

David and Amy Fox (Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale) are an unhappy couple taking a road trip together before they finalize their divorce plans. When their car breaks down on a secluded country road, the couple takes up residence at the Pinewood Motel, run by the unnerving Mason (Frank Whaley). Once settled in their ramshackle room, David and Amy determine their car troubles were no accident, and this ominous motel room might cost them their lives.

Director Nimrod Antal made quite a splash on the international cinema scene years back with the brooding “Kontroll.” A stylish thriller set in the Hungarian subway system, Antal showed imagination and ease with unsettling images. “Vacancy” ushers Antal into the Hollywood system and either through luck or talent (I’m betting on the latter), he’s ducked under many of the traps laid for thriller filmmakers to create a picture that’s heavy on frightening might and menace, and unsettlingly light on stupidity.

“Vacancy” details the art of selling terror, literally through the disturbing snuff film plot and artistically in the creeping sense of dread that informs every frame. The screenplay by Mark L. Smith presents a simplistic blueprint for the nightmare and Antal runs away with the potential, breaking down the location and personalities to best exploit the evil of the evening.

It’s an astoundingly competent directorial job that spins the viewer’s head with its suspense dexterity and endless appetite for punishment. Not overwhelmingly gory, Antal instead reaches for nimble stabs at sadism for his frights, getting inside the mind while also dishing out the action. “Vacancy” is an undoubtedly upsetting picture, but I never felt it crossed over into anger. Antal wants to distress his audience through dark corners of the night, a group of men who kill not only for fun but for profit, and the inherent ick of a backwoods motel; the director executing his vision with a crystalline death blow. Some might view it as barbaric, but I see the picture as wildly successful in groping thriller conventions with a newfound sense of muscle.

A crucial component of Antal’s frontal assault is the masterful cinematography by Andrzej Sekula (“Pulp Fiction,” “Hackers”). Exploring unusual compositions and gloomy lighting, Sekula tightens the film even further with his sneaky photography. The camera is held tight on the characters to best extract the nightmare of the night, using harsh whites and oozy neon lighting as a source of hope and fear for David and Amy as they navigate their options for escape.

Intelligence, or the frayed strands of it in the midst of a panic attack, also plays a vital part to the freshness of “Vacancy.” This is not a genre known for clear-thinking characters, yet David, when it dawns on him that trouble is thundering near, turns into a crafty fellow. The character is written with a head on his shoulders, always thinking two steps ahead of the killers (for better or worse), trying to convince his wife that he might be a terrible husband, but when maniacs are swarming a motel, he knows a thing or two about surviving the night. Or, at the very least, outsmarting country dingbats while using their labyrinthine lair (foreshadowed in the gorgeous, Saul Bass-inspired opening titles) to his advantage.

When the finale comes, the surprises start to settle in. No twist ending? No last-minute jolts? No obligatory 10-minute cool off period to wind down the audience? “Vacancy” just ends, and with a great degree of satisfaction. Nevertheless, when the story has resolved itself with bruising and blood, the picture has the good sense to bolt for the exit. “Vacancy” is bracing, blissfully succinct, and rip-the-armrest-off terrifying; it’s worth every blood-smeared minute of your time.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/20/07 14:24:54
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

2/11/13 Quigley It put me to sleep. 2 stars
12/06/09 Distant Memory I saw it theatrically in 2007. Seem to remember thinking it was quite good 4 stars
1/16/09 gc Great 1st half, Wilson suprisingly good in this, A horror movie done right for a change 4 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. not that scary but definitely interesting-i wasn't bored :] 4 stars
7/12/08 John Millheim crazy, snuff film. makes you want to stay away from motels 4 stars
6/03/08 ravenmad kinda sick, gross-sick. that snuff add-on was inhuman. Ick! i hated that most. 4 stars
3/31/08 beau i like the suspense and the pace but it isnt what i would call frightening as hell 3 stars
2/18/08 Jordan Good, and the films decision not to use gore works well. But, we have seen it all before! 3 stars
2/16/08 Jeremy Loved it. I feel wierd saying this, but is this Wilson's best acting to date? He rocked it 5 stars
1/15/08 Matt Dark, unexciting, B-Grade shlock. Even at 80 mins it drags on to nowhere. 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Brilliant, pulse-pounding thriller.Twisted,scary,and undeniably creepy! 5 stars
9/17/07 Monday Morning Quite a bit worse than shitty. 1 stars
8/21/07 Roscoe Not a bad horror flick. 80 million times better than the shit storm known as "rest stop." 4 stars
8/19/07 action movie fan some good tension but the villians very very underdevolped-that weakens story 3 stars
8/11/07 tom very smart 4 stars
7/15/07 chris decent film worth seeing 4 stars
7/04/07 Heather At least Kate Beckinsale landed a slightly better role than CLICK (not saying much!) 3 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Taut thriller only stumbles in final minutes. BTW, nifty opening credits. 4 stars
7/02/07 Norman (Don't like seeing Kate Beckinsale "flip the bird") Kate Beckinsale wouold be better remembering who she is & not trying to be Ashley Judd. 3 stars
7/01/07 Lydia Helton No ending at all Caiphn! And why KB is hooked on B-movie slumming we'll never know. 3 stars
6/20/07 Lamb Creepy old fashioned horror. Some holes in the logic but still fun. 4 stars
6/14/07 Caiphn Very spooky, intense moments. No twist ending. (that's a good thing) 3 stars
5/24/07 ES Great suspense, disappointingly predictable ending 3 stars
5/23/07 malcolm better than i expected. tense 4 stars
5/03/07 AC BOWEN Total renter. Not scary at all. 2 stars
5/03/07 Ole Man Bourbon It was as though they ran out of money 2/3 through 2 stars
4/22/07 Brian Mckay The premise has more promise than the actual movie does. See it on DVD, if at all 3 stars
4/22/07 Ted Less subtle than Hitchcock, but satisfying nonetheless. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  20-Apr-2007 (R)
  DVD: 14-Aug-2007



Directed by
  Nimród Antal

Written by
  Mark L. Smith

  Luke Wilson
  Kate Beckinsale
  Frank Whaley
  Ethan Embry

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast