What happens when a couple’s car breaks down on a deserted back road? Do they stand around and argue, or walk back a few miles and stay at the empty-looking hotel with the friendly mechanic (who happens to be Ethan Embry in the weirdest out-of-character role since Anne Hathaway in Havoc)?  Vacancy promises to answer these burning questions and more.

Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, both capable actors in their own right, do their best to create David and Amy Fox, a couple who lost a child, and are about to lose their marriage. We learn all about their marital problems in the longest expositional scene in recent history. After 20 minutes, when audiences are still waiting for something to happen, that 80 minute running time doesn’t feel as short as it originally did. By the time the couple’s car breaks down and they settle into the hotel room to begin the inevitable torturous night that the ads proclaim, the Foxes are lucky to still have an audience watching at all.

Director Nimrod Antal received a great deal of praise for his Hungrian-made Kontroll, but in bringing his skills to the American screen, he’s lost something in translation. Though the camera work is mostly top-notch, despite some terrible framings on the opening car shots, Vacancy still lacks a good amount of punch. There’s no real drive behind the story. In a film that’s all about action, the action is glaringly absent. The only excitement to be found is in yelling at the main characters each time they do something else completely illogical. Audience members will find themselves shouting (again) “No, don’t do THAT!” This is the kind of horror movie that was tired in the 60’s. 40 years later it’s beyond cliche.

Vacancy is not a film for the faint of heart, but for the faint of mind.  Pushing itself off as a Hitchcockian suspense thriller only serves to highlight the film’s shortcomings. In reality, Vacancy is more comparable to a side story Eli Roth might have left on the cutting room floor of Hostel II. As one producer says in the “making of” featurette, “People do good things with cameras and people do horrible things with cameras.” Ironically, Vacancy happens to be the latter.

Zach’s Rating: D+
Hitchcock Fan’s Rating: F+
Average Filmgoer’s Rating: C

To view the trailer, visit Youtube
To purchase Vacancy, visit Amazon
To read a review on the soundtrack, visit

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