Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star as David and Amy Fox in this good old fashioned thriller about a married couple who break down in the middle of nowhere and are forced to spend the night at a creepy old motel. Settling down for the night, David realizes that all the horror films heís watching were filmed in the very room they are staying in. There are cameras everywhere and David and Amy have just signed up to star in a vicious gangís latest snuff movie.
The film starts out rather ordinarily (after the very OTT Saul Bass inspired opening credits sequence) but soon gets down to the nitty gritty and doesnít let up until the climax. Beckinsale and Wilson are good as a couple on the verge of divorce after the death of their young son. When we meet them, they have just faked togetherness for a family gathering at her parentís house. The trials and tribulations make them realize however that they do still love each other, and makes them work that much harder to survive.
The realization of what is going on is particularly horrific, and from then on even the most routine actions employ frights, from banging on the doors to glimpses of scary mesh-masked men at the windows to the tour de force cavern set-piece which is extremely claustrophobic and actually pretty scary. I havenít seen a villainís movements freak me out as much as that since The Wheelers in Return to Oz.
The cast are all good, but Frank Whaleyís Mason is so out there in some moments that he verges on laughable. I could just imagine the teenagers wetting themselves at his performance on opening night. The film is tense, claustrophobic, scary and very dark. The Psycho references are not subtle, but besides Identity, which was released four years ago, we havenít really had a good old fashioned spooky motel horror-thriller in a good while.
Vacancy is a tense, well-paced thriller, itís nothing new but itís well handled, which makes it scary. The ending isnít so great (I donít think you could lie bleeding for hours and still be alive by morning) and there are some very dumb character moves (such as the scene where Mason throws Amy onto the gun) which are unforgivable, so it loses points in that respect.