Posted October 8, 2007 in Film

Puttering down a rural road past midnight, Amy and Dave (Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson) think the worst is behind them: they’ve lost their son and let grief shatter their marriage. But after their car breaks down, the sniping couple realizes they’ve only traded their tearjerker Hollywood cliché for a deadlier one—the Motel of Doom. Business is so slow at the Pinewood that oddball manager Mason (Frank Whaley, amusing himself by channeling David Cross and John Waters) has decided to make extra cash creating and selling snuff films. (You’d think eBay would be easier.) As Amy and Dave discover the VHS tapes and hidden cameras, they realize the greatest threat to their health isn’t the grotty ‘60s furniture, but Mason’s silent assassins, who in their janitor blues and face paint slink around like murderous mimes. Director Nimrod Antal taps into the universal primal fears of darkness, isolation and imminent death, but can’t frighten the common sense out of an audience who is unable to get past the holes in Mark L. Smith’s script that keep the ex-lovebirds screaming and flailing about when they should be breaking the spy camera lenses that they unearthed less than 10 minutes after check-in. Despite Beckinsale’s best efforts to look sweaty and miserable, Vacancy is no Psycho. Hell, it’s not smart enough to even be Inn of the Damned, Motel Hell, or my personal fave, Mountaintop Motel Massacre. (Amy Nicholson)


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