- Vacancy (2007) movie review: Starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson as a couple trapped in an hellish motel, Nimród Antal’s suspense/horror thriller is a flawed but gripping effort that also happens to be notably less violent than others in the genre.
Vacancy movie review: Nimród Antal’s horror thriller takes the road less blood-drenched
Be sure to double-check the amenities before checking into director Nimród Antal’s Vacancy, as what may sound like your average gory thriller in which psychopaths butcher helpless victims is in fact quite a different experience.
Recent horror movies like Saw and Hostel may have promoted gruesome torture and bloodlust as the only successful ingredients for a suspenseful thriller, but Vacancy proves otherwise. Unlike most movies of the genre, it succeeds in crafting nail-biting suspense and intense action without resorting to excessive violence.
Instead, Antal and first-time screenwriter Mark L. Smith force their characters to think through their every move while they struggle to find a way out of their predicament.
Vacancy centers on David (Luke Wilson) and Amy Fox (Kate Beckinsale), a married couple who checks into an isolated motel after their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Once settled in, they soon find themselves terrorized by killers trying to shoot their next snuff film.
How can they escape?
The claustrophobic setting strengthens the film’s sense of terror, especially in the sequences that show David and Amy confined in their creepy room.
Far from perfect heart-pounder
But despite its qualities, Vacancy is far from perfect.
For instance, some of the characters’ decisions are too moronic to be credible, while many of the overblown stunts conform to Hollywood’s action flick clichés.
Luke Wilson, in a rare non-comedic role, is surprisingly effective, but with Kate Beckinsale by his side there’s not much that could have gone wrong. The thriller’s top acting honors, however, go to Frank Whaley, exuding menace as the eccentric motel manager.
Plot holes aside, Vacancy is engaging enough to keep your heart pounding for 90 fast-paced minutes.
Director: Nimród Antal.
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith.
Cast: Luke Wilson. Kate Beckinsale. Frank Whaley. Ethan Embry. Scott G. Anderson. Andrew Fiscella.
“Vancancy Movie (2007): Less Blood-Red Suspense” review text © Franck Tabouring; excerpt, image captions, bullet point introduction, and notes/endnotes © Alt Film Guide.
“Vancancy Movie (2007) Review” endnotes
Kate Beckinsale Vacancy movie image: Suzanne Tenner | Sony Pictures.
“Vancancy Movie (2007): Less Blood-Red Suspense” last updated in September 2021.