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Taut, grisly horror movie has unexpected bite.
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Tomatometer®reviews counted: 11see all Vacancy reviews
Top Critic Reviews
Fresh: Vacancy is a no-nonsense, no ambition thriller, but sometimes that's more than enough to please.
- Christian Toto, Washington Times, Thursday, June 24, 2010
Vacancy has Alfred Hitchcock's finger prints smeared all over it, in fact at several times, especially the quite nifty looking opening credits, seems a lot like a homage to the great horror maestro himself. Its true, that even many years after Hitchcok finished making movies, that his movie still stay in memory for longer than most of the recent Hollywood horror that has arrived. The Birds and Psycho are far more memorable than the House of Wax remake or The Reaping. Hitchcock's movies worked because he had great characterisation and also a great sense of atmosphere, you could sit and watch a Hitchcock movie and be terrified for half an hour before anything scary actually happens. The sense of foreboding and incredibly skilfully done atmosphere did that to an audience. Nowadays we get cheap jump out of your seat scares and torture scenes designed to sicken. Initially my thoughts towards seeing Vacancy were not great, the trailer looked alright, but my guess was it would just be another lame, modern slasher flick. So what a great surprise to say that Vacancy is a good little movie that actually has some genuine scares in it. The movie isn't gory, nor is it jumpy, the movie is unsettling and creepy. Now this is what a true horror movie should do in my eyes, if a movie can unsettle without resorting to jump scares then it is a success. Vacncay pulls this off, well it pulls this off for a majority of the time. The movie is an absolute success until the ending, at the ending it seems to flounder a bit and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. But everything up until the ending is a joy to watch. What surprised me most about Vacancy has to be the actual acting. When I saw the trailer and saw that Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson were the leading couple I nearly burst out laughing. For starters Luke Wilson is a comedy man, he's designed to make funny movies. Well when I say funny movies I mean if he has the right material as just recently I've found him as unfunny as can be. Kate Beckinsale just doesn't seem the type to be in a horror movie. But its this bizarre casting that pays off so well. Luke Wilson really proves himself in this movie, to the extent I want him to focus more on a serious acting career, he seems to be more at home here than he has in years with his comedy movies. Kate Beckinsale also proves herself admirably. The pair are believable, and you actually start to care for them. Wishing that they will escape the nightmare, hoping that they find a way out. Their performances are so much different from the usual stupid teenagers we see in horror movies today, its refreshing to see adults in this horrific situation. The villains of the movie are also quite menacing for the majority of the time, the hotel manager played by Frank Whaley is a good character. He's not on screen too often, but he does play a creepy little man very well. So what of the scares then? Well as I've said the movie is at times pretty scary. Not for the first twenty minutes mind you, that is dedicated for set up and too increase the atmosphere. Those scenes work very well and once again its refreshing to see genuine character development in a horror movie, made better by the fact the two leads are great. However, the minute the couple enter the hotel room the focus shifts. Bangings on the wall and doors begin, the phone rings with nobody on the other end. From that point onwards the movie gets terrifying, the bangings on the wall really starts to creep you out at one point. Once the big bad secret about the motel is discovered, after watching some tapes, and the lights suddenly go out. The movie succeeds in terrifying. After the lights go out I guarantee you will be sitting on the edge of your seats. The movie does a couple of jump scares here and there, but it focuses mainly on the unseen terror. The minute the bangings stopped you aren't relieved, you're even more terrified because then you don't know what the people are up to. Its this sense of terror that makes the movie worthy of a recommendation. Its nice to see a horror movie try scaring and unsettling the audience once in a while. Its nothing a hardcore horror fan can't handle, but it definitely will unsettle the general population of people. As I've said the movie isn't perfect. The ending being the major setback of the movie. After the brilliant set up, and the scary middle section, the ending seems to run out of steam. In fact it seemed like the writers wasn't sure what to do anymore and did a few obvious things and quickly ended the movie. It feels rushes and unlike the rest of the movie, unskillfully made. Its the ending that fails in making this a complete homage to Hitchcock, Hitchcock could deliver an ending, this movie doesn't really get an ending. The ending is enough to leave you satisfied, but in a movie that exceeds all expectations you expect more from the ending. Vacancy is a good old fashioned horror/thriller. Its only let down by its pretty disappointing ending. The run time is pretty short, making the experience short and sharp enough to pack a real punch. Its really worth checking out just for the brilliant set up and middle section. But the ending really does make the movie suffer a little bit. Still this is definitely a good horror movie, and more horror movies made in this style would be a welcome relief.
- matertenebraum, Sunday, April 18, 2010
This mean little horror thriller doesn't need more than two characters stumbling into a not too unlikely scenario to get the adrenaline flowing. Without much gore or exaggeration it easily thrills and scares without ever taking the gory path so many films of the genre took in recent years. Wilson and Beckinsale play believable characters and do not lose any of the superficial, clichd lines so often used in such movies. The result is short, mean and exciting, only the ending turns out to be a bit conventional. Still, worth a watch and much better than most other films with similar topics.
- ironclad1609, Sunday, December 27, 2009