Has the audience left the theater yet? I’m more afraid of them than the killers.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/20/2007
Director: Nimród Antal
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Luke “Lukewarm” Wilson, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry

Pop quiz, hotshot-

Don’t worry, its multiple choice:

1) A vacancy is:
a) A room for rent.
b) The space between the ears of whomever green lit this film.
c) The sign that has now been hung in the window of the overpriced office that
Kate Beckinsale’s agent had to vacate after she fired him.
d) All of the above.

If you answered d, then you are correct! Your prize is this advice: Don’t bother to go see “Vacancy”.

This movie breaks the cardinal rule of thrillers; it is 100% boring! Where to begin? Let’s start with the plot, shall we?

The writers of this awesome film didn’t even conceive to deviate from the formula. Amy and David Fox (Beckinsale and Wilson) are returning from a visit to her parents on their anniversary. They are hardly as happy as the in-laws, however; due to a standard marital stressor, their own union has fallen off the cliff.

Lost and with car trouble, they end up at a hole in the wall named the Pinewood Hotel; of course they are the sole tenants. In the room, they find videotapes of tortures and murders that had taken place in that very room. Then all hell breaks loose, hell in Nimrod terms anyway.

If the plot doesn’t sound tired enough, the actors make it even more fun. Wilson hardly has the charisma to power an entire film; he is much better in bit roles, or perhaps as a simpering romantic lead. He seems to feel that he is more imposing with a strange Jack Nicholson impression, but it’s really just distracting.

Beckinsale has cornered the market on languishing in a pit of ennui. Slaying vampires and exploring her sexuality work fine for her, but this role puts her in a position where she simply comes across as whiny.

The tension between them, while understandable, is played up with such mean-spirited and juvenile hostility that the inevitable rekindling of their affection rings hollow.

The “bad guys” are a bit freaky, and Whalen has his moments as the weirdo hotel manager (the line “sticky as an old whore” comes to mind), but he certainly doesn’t bring enough of the much needed humor element to this film.

The cinematography, editing, and art direction don’t earn any brownie points either. Poor Antal lives up to his first name with some of the choices in this film.

The starting credits belong in “Zero Effect” rather than a horror film. The physical darkness of the film was supposed to feel gritty and intense, but it really made us want to take a nap.

And while this may seem nit-picky, the timing of the film threw Elizabeth off. Some things take a long time, while others go very quickly. While you can hardly expect a film to follow real time, some consistency would be nice.

Finally, the ending bears mentioning. While we would never dream of sharing the ending with you, one thing is certain – they commit an absolutely inexcusable plot sin. At the end of the film, the entire audience groaned at the ridiculous state of affairs. It is a completely unsatisfactory way to end a film in our opinion.

So if you feel a need to see this film for some reason, go ahead. It is probably only for incredibly hard-core Wilson or Beckinsale fans that don’t mind being disappointed.

Otherwise, go see one of the good movies out now. If you can’t find anything, and you want a truly terrifying, smart horror film, go rent “The Descent.” We plan on reviewing that for you at some point even though it is an older film, gentle reader, because that it what a real thriller looks like.

So we give “Vacancy” a 1 out of 5. I felt a little bad about the 2 for “The Reaping”, but I have no qualms about Audrey’s choice to universally pan this one.

PS: Kate never even takes off her shoes. Now you know you can skip this one.