There are a lot of motives taken from the American Lifestyle that became so iconic that they are basically sub-genres in the movie industry. One of them is definitely the idea that a young couple that’s travelling across country books the wrong shady motel and then proceeds to get almost slaughtered by the locals or the pervy owner of the motel. If you’re interested in seeing something similar but with a different spin, check out Surveillance. However, Vacancy is one of the better movies in this sub-genre. It’s fully aware of its generic story and it manages to remedy the situation by using quite efficient gimmicks. Actually, the whole story for the movie came about as the writer, Mark Smith was driving in Colorado and seen all these isolated motels, without any visible guests, so he wondered how they are breaking even. Pacing is definitely one of them, as you are thrown into the action relatively early. This focuses your attention on the macabre and strange details, as you’re slowly getting sucked into this weird atmosphere of murder and mayhem. Speaking of the atmosphere, it’s pretty intense, as they were going for more of a suspense vibe over a gory vibe. This doesn’t mean that there’s no gore, but it’s not that impactful. Just imagine what could have happened if Sarah Jessica Parker wasn’t replaced by Kate Beckinsale.
It’s not a good time for a Fox family. Amy and David suffered a family tragedy that’s slowly tearing them apart (you’re tearing me apaaarrrtttt, Lisa). On their way home, from a family reunion, they end up in a shady motel, hoping to hit the road pretty soon. However, they will soon discover that that will be quite difficult and dangerous…
Whenever I watch these movies where there are killers operating from a hotel, I can’t help but remember one of the sickest fucks that ever existed H. H. Holmes. Back in 1892 he constructed his own hotel from hell, better known as “Murder Castle” and killed at least nine guests. If you want to know more about this crazy guy, check his Wiki. Now, back to the movie. I already mentioned that suspenseful atmosphere, but I also have to mention the whole Amy-David dynamic. I mean, it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen with two of them fighting all the time and then they are threatened at a more basic level and they forget all about those fights and sort of rediscover each other. Funnily enough, the word on the set is that Kate found it quite difficult to work with Luke since he was hangover a lot of the times. And funnily enough, made me like him more. Finally, you can feel that Hitchcock vibe throughout the movie, sort of an homage that ties into something else that I can’t quite define.
Director: Nimród Antal
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Ethan Embry, Frank Whaley
Fun Stuff: The snuff films were all shot on the first day of shooting. The complete snuff films are listed on the film’s home video release.