Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson
Direction: Nimród Antal
Rating: * * & 1/2 (two and half stars)
Time to reload the ghost of Norman Bates. You know the drill: Nightfall on the highway, a broke-down car, the wayside moth-ball motel, mandatory pretty woman in distress, slash and slay, snuff and scare.
But Psycho in the time of Saw has to be sexed up with tech turn and bloodwork, to keep the tickets selling. So, the gore quotient is a lot higher than Hitchcock would have ever imagined. And Vacancy’s new-age nutcase sadism comes with a ‘creative’ twist. The villains here could give horror guru Eli Roth a complex — they actually film the brutal killings of victims on video, after trapping them in a motel room.
So you have bickering couple Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson checking into a motel after their car breaks down. They find some gory slasher films on videotape in the room. Soon, they realise that all the films have been shot in the same room. And when they discover hidden cameras, they know they are the next ‘actors’ in line.
All very predictable, as the couple literally takes on a creepy trail — crawling through tunnels and creeping up the hallway to escape. Vacancy isn’t exactly dumb schlock, but a smarter ending would have helped. You get some genuine scares but — trust me — Norman Bates was far more sinister, even without sting operation notions.