Saturday, September 01, 2007

Film review: Vacancy

Check in, but you will never check out

Vacancy is a B-movie you will forget next year. This isn’t a film you are going to tell your grandchildren that you stood in queue to watch. Neither will this movie pick up a small, cult audience the way films like Saw and Hostel do. But director Nimrod Antal keeps his story simple and straightforward. And at the end of the day, he does deliver on the thrills and chills. That’s saying a lot especially at a time when big egos and studios are sinking ambitious and expensive thrillers faster than the Titanic.
Kate Beckinsale, the reining queen of creepy B-movies, and Luke Wilson play a bickering couple returning to Los Angeles after an arduous reunion her parents. David Fox (Luke) goes off the Interstate in an attempt to take a shortcut and soon enough finds himself in the middle of nowhere, where his car breaks down. The parallels to Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal movie Psycho must haunt any viewer at this point.
Nowhere is exactly where Pinewood Motel is. A board announces that everyday is the
Fourth of July at the motel, which reminds you of the motels of the 60s. The manager played with creepy deviousness by Frank Whaley is unfortunately a snuff film maker. Snuff films are the stuff of legends. Not one has yet been found. A snuff film is where the filmmaker shoots and distributes a film in which a human is killed for the purposes of “pleasure”.
The Foxes soon find this out from a tape of snuff killings left conveniently behind at their room. In the tape, some women are being killed possibly after being raped. The Foxes spend the rest of the movie finding a way out and in the process undergoing some useful marital therapy. Their relationship, which is on the verge of divorce, at the end of the movie is miraculously renewed.
The movie is shot on a shoestring budget and cinematographer Andrzej Sekula fills his canvas with reflections. After a point, these reflections are pointless and make the movie seem pretentious.
Movie is recommended for viewing only if you are a compulsive thriller addict.