THE shadow of Alfred Hitchcock looms large over a neat little horror flick about a couple forced to spend a night in the motel from hell. With shades of Psycho and The Birds, Vacancy sure isn’t up there with The Master’s finest work but, given that we haven’t had a decent horror all year, it’s a pleasantly creepy surprise.
Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale play unlucky couple David and Amy whose car breaks down. Slap bang in the middle of nowhere, they have no choice but to head back to the place they just got gas, where they’re directed to the rundown Pinewood Motel.
And it’s not just the roaches or the line of scum around the tub the couple have to contend with, for they soon discover a stack of videos showing couples being attacked by masked men. To their horror, they realise the movies were shot in their room. Yikes.
Vacancy is one of those low-budget movies that, before a pretty generic ending, builds up a terrific head of steam, starting with snazzy opening titles and a real sense of creeping dread as David and Amy realise they’re about to become unwitting stars in a snuff movie.
Wilson and Beckinsale convince as a couple who put aside their squabbles to survive while Frank Whaley, of Swimming With Sharks fame, is blackly amusing as the motel manager.