MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -4

Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley, Ethan Embry. Horror/thriller. Written by Mark L. Smith. Directed by Nimrod Antal.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, a scrabbling couple is forced to spend the night in a remote motel. What to do? They watch scary movies on TV. Soon, they discover that the slasher movies they are watching were filmed in this very room. And someone intends to make our unsuspecting couple the stars of a new sequel.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Its a good premise. Youre at a generic motel surrounded by a serene setting. You turn on the TV and heres this horrific murder scene. Then you notice it. Whats happening on the screen took place in your room. Great premise. And thats about the only positive I have to say concerning Vacancy. Oh, the acting is good and it does keep you on the edge of your seat, but it has so many implausibilities that it appears the filmmakers think were just plain stupid.

My main problem with the film, besides the implausibilities, is that its unpleasant. The couple is on a verge of divorce, so the bickering and nasty swipes at one another become depressing. Next, is the objectionable language. I believe the first sentence out of Luke Wilsons mouth includes a misuse of Christs name. Between using the Almighty as an expletive for releasing frustration and the f-word for every other emotion, the script is crowded with abusive and overly familiar movie dialogue. Then there is the video-taped brutality where we see former motel guests getting beaten, tortured and stabbed to death by the manager and his deviant pals. Some are entertained by graphic and torturous violence, but in a world where terrorists have little regard for life and nutcases open fire on terrified fellow classmates, seeing people being butchered is not my idea of a fun evening at the cinema. Even more unsettling for me is the countless script mistakes that could have been cleared up had the writer given the slightest effort.

SPOILER ALERT: I am going to spotlight a few of those improbables. If you dont want to know them, skip the following paragraph.

The couple is stuck in the motel room and realizes the villain has some secret entrance. It is discovered. On the bathroom floor, under a neatly placed throw rug, theres a hatchway to a tunnel. Now, the villain has already made a sneak appearance in the bathroom and evidently retreated through that hatchway. So why, when the hero finds the secret passage, is it covered neatly by the throw rug? How could the baddie have straightened it? That drove me crazy through the rest of the film. Then theres the cop who gets knifed to death. No other cops come! The dispatcher knows where he went. Wouldnt they think something was up when he doesnt return or call in? And there are other mistakes writer Mark L. Smith could have easily fixed. Why didnt he fix them? Is he not smart enough? I doubt that. He got the job. He must have something on the ball. Maybe he thinks we wont notice, that we wont care so long as we can get a good dose of the shocks.

Video Alternative: The Old Dark House. Made in 1932, many a spooky movie has borrowed from this one. Great cast includes Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart, and Raymond Massey. A tongue-in-cheek chiller about travelers stranded in mysterious mansion, with Karloff as an eerie butler.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sony Pictures Releasing

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: The couple, about to divorce, says cruel and hostile things to one another until they unite against their foes.

Obscene Language: 35 or so obscenities, mostly the f-word.

Profanity: 10 or more profane uses of Gods name and Christs.

Violence: Several couples who have stayed at the motel as seen on video being abused, tortured and killed; the lead couple also gets beaten and molested; the woman is brutally punched and her husband is stabbed; a cop is stabbed to death; two villains get squashed by a moving car; another man gets shot to death. Blood: Lots of blood where would a good slasher movie be without lots of blood?

Sex: No time.

Nudity: We see a woman in only her panties as shes being bashed about. Im hoping nobody finds that scene erotic.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Along with her frequent use of the f-word, the wife also gives her man the finger.

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: It frightens me to guess.

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