Taking a back road to avoid the traffic backlog on the highway, David and Amy Fox discover that they've somehow become lost. The couple are irritable after having spent quality time together with their family while putting on a show of how happily married they are. They are in fact right on the verge of divorce, both not being able to cope with the death of their young son. Around this time, their BMW decides to sputter and die out, forcing them to take shelter at a roadside motel.
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They are greeted at the motel by the night manager, who shows them to their room. When David pops in a video tape to help him wind down before bed, he discovers that the slasher flick playing on the TV has actually taken place in their very room. With cameras hidden everywhere recording everything they do, David and Amy must outsmart the voyeur watching them and fight to escape before they are killed too.
This is the premise for Vacancy, a new thriller from Sony Pictures starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. Overall, the plot was pretty predictable:
1) Couple traveling on dark, scary road and their car breaks down.
2) They checks into a creepy motel.
3) They watch tapes of people getting killed.
4) They try to escape before they're killed next.
Besides the conventional storyline, another questionable aspect of the movie was the relationship between Wilson and Beckinsale. In my opinion, it just didn't work. In the beginning, their backstory revealed that they were mere shells of their former, loving selves due to a horrifying personal loss. However, all this material seemed to be force-fed to the audience in the first few minutes of the film. It felt rushed as if the director wanted to get their history out of the way and get on with the killings. The audience didn't really get to connect with the characters at all before all the mayhem began.
As the plot bumped along, the characters grew closer and closer together and made vows to renew their relationship once they survived the horror. Was it Keanu Reeves in Speed who said, "relationships based on intense experiences never work?" The fact that they had already lived through the death of their son and were still headed toward divorce conflicts with their happily ever after plan upon surviving the psychotic killers.
Despite the predictability of the hunter/hunted plot, the movie still managed to build up some really tense moments and produce some jump-out-of-your-seat scares. The film was shot in a gritty, fast-moving pace that kept its audience right with the main characters. When they were panicking, the audience was panicking; when they took a breath, the audience took a breath too.
Overall, the movie seemed to follow the general horror movie road map. There was nothing surprising or different about this film. In fact, it probably used up every horror film cliché that could be applied. Still, the marquee cred of the stars will probably draw in more ticket sales than if it had been cast with no-name wanna-bes. If you're looking for some bump-and-jump horror action, this is probably the show for you. If you're looking for a new twist on an old genre, you'll need to keep looking.