This riveting thriller features Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple whose car breaks down, stranding them at a very dangerous hotel. Director Nimrod Antal carefully builds the suspense as the film gradually leads to horror when the hotel turns out to be a snuff film operation, with cameras everywhere and lots of truly horrific videos of past murders (shot in the same room) lying atop the TV set. The couple needs to think fast before they become the next victims.
Beckinsale and Wilson play down their star wattage and get truly involved in their change-of-pace roles, sucking the audience into their situation far deeper than one might think possible. Meticulous use of the tawdry, low-rent motel setting--lots of rotted wood, stained wallpaper, and ugly sofas--provides a realistic sense of space. Intelligently crafted and unfolding practically in real time, VACANCY is edge-of-the-seat all the way. Other strong points are the punchy score from Paul Haslinger, a PSYCHO-ish credit sequence, a creepy Frank Whaley as the hotel clerk, and lots of references to films like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. Thanks to all this care and attention, the scares linger longer than you might expect, so don't watch it alone.