Vacancy

1280_vacancy.jpgDon’t stay at the motel! The lodging facilities in Vacancy, which double as a low-budget snuff-film factory using unfortunate travelers as fresh meat, are clearly not AAA-approved, and the “cleaning crew” is a gang of small-time thugs who aim to butcher you on video. When bickering Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, a married couple waiting out the paperwork on their divorce, exit the interstate and break down at the side of the road, they end up with top billing in the next torture-porn fest coming out of the Pinewood Motel. Director Nimrod Antal directs at a suitably nerve-jangling pace, leaving plenty of room in the early scenes for audience members to shout ineffectually at the screen, beseeching the dopey twosome to get the $%#& out of there already, and then turning the screws in the final reels so that the movie feels like wall-to-wall action. What doesn’t work is the combination of seedy exploitation with Hollywood slickness — the idea that casting name actors like Beckinsale and Wilson in a movie about adversity bringing an emotionally estranged couple back together makes a nasty horror movie somehow life-affirming. It’s not a terrible film, but it has the whiff of cynicism about it. C+

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