Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Vacancy
Fun is a strange word to use with this genre, a category I rarely choose for my viewing pleasure. The humor comes from the small but excellent cast in this 2007 film.
Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale play a married couple lost on a dark, deserted stretch of rural two-lane highway. Their car breaks down and they choose to stay at a dumpy motel run by Frank Whaley. Up to this point, the movie plays like a close cousin to Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”
Soon Luke and Kate suspect they are the intended victims of some local psychos who aim to beat, abuse and kill them while recording it all for a snuff film. Here the movie turns into a close cousin of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
Despite the low-rent premise, the movie is exciting and scary. It is also funny thanks to Wilson and Whaley. Beckinsale, one of the best actresses we have, is also very good here, and I have never seen her less than terrific since first seeing her in Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare film, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Her terror seems genuine and her humor comes from her bitter rapport with Wilson (at least I found their banter funny.) As their situation grows more serious, the laughs are of the nervous kind as we, the audience, are a little ahead of the couple because we know this is a horror film.
“Vacancy” was directed by Nimrod Antal, a filmmaker new to me, who has made half a dozen features in a dozen years.
I can recommend this film to those who like this kind of picture and to those having a tough week and who want to kick back and forget their own problems for 85 minutes.