Vacancy (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

There’s something about a horror film that attracts the most unlikely actors. I briefly remember seeing some previews for “Vacancy” a few months back. It’s one of those movies, like “Perfect Stranger” that you blink and miss it in theaters and the studio hopes that the movie will find new life on DVD to help recoup their cost of making it. And I would think that by now, even the most normal of folk would have seen enough of these movies that when stranded on the side of a road, never to check into a motel with no registered guests. Yes, “Vacancy” is another one of those movies which should have began and ended with “Psycho”.

David (Luke Wilson) and his soon to be ex-wife, Amy (Kate Beckinsale), are driving out along a deserted highway. They’re lost, presumably because David veered off the main interstate to find a short cut. As luck would have it, they start to have car trouble after hitting a raccoon (or squirrel, depending on who tells the story) and start to panic. Luckily, they coast into a service station where they find the assistance of a helpful mechanic (Ethan Embry). He assures them their car is fine and it’s off they go…for about a mile. The car breaks down and they begrudgingly stumble back to the service station that happens to have a motel right next door. David and Amy feel they won’t get anything accomplished arguing about the car, so they decide a good night’s rest is just what they need. After getting the “Honeymoon Suite”, David quickly discovers that there’s more to the room than meets the eye. There are snuff films of couples being killed by masked strangers in their very room. Are David and Amy next or will they have the smarts to outwit the killers that stalk them?

There’s nothing new or original about “Vacancy”. That’s not to say that it’s a bad movie, because it’s really not. The main characters are a little too marquee for a film like this. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckensale aren’t exactly Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman, but this film feels like its a few notches down for both of these actors. Then again, maybe the filmmakers had enough money left over to pay some higher salaries as the movie only has a cast of seven. A staple of 90’s movies, we do get a pretty decent (if not over the top) performance from Frank Whaley who plays the creepy manager of the hotel. The plot is fairly simple and as I mentioned, there’s no real new twists or turns to this type of movie. We figure that the main characters will either live or die by the time the closing credits roll. I won’t tell the outcome, of course. It’s not bad for a Friday night movie (ironically enough, when I watched it) but there’s no real fear or anything that makes the movie stick out as being good (or bad, either). Take it with a grain of salt and you should be fine.

Video: How does it look?

“Vacancy” is shown in a very good-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that leaves little to the imagination. The movie is new to DVD and as such, looks fantastic on screen. A majority of the film takes place at night, but thankfully we don’t get any artifacting (or none that I could see, anyway) and the black levels are right on target. There’s no edge enhancement to speak of and I just keep shaking my head at how good some of these movies look on a HD format. I really couldn’t find much wrong with the transfer at all. At only 85 minutes, the movie has plenty of space on the Blu-ray disc and with a lack of supplements, that might account for the high bit rate. In any case, “Vacancy” looks outstanding.

Audio: How does it sound?

As with most Sony titles, we’re given a few options. I chose to listen to the PCM uncompressed track, though after a few tests in between, there’s not a whole lot of difference between that and the other Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue sounded fine and though there weren’t a whole lot of ambient surround effects, I wouldn’t call this a bad track by any means. For some reason, I chose to listen to the French 5.1 track as well and it sounds good too. I wouldn’t rate this track as being overly good or bad, but just a tad bit above average, save for some gunfire and car crashes towards the end.

Supplements: What are the extras?

In terms of supplements, “Vacancy” is lacking. We get the standard “Making of…” featurette with some behind the scenes interviews with the cast and crew. There are a few deleted scenes and the most interesting featurette are the extended “snuff” films that can be briefly seen in the movie. I’d suggest this as a rental, though true fans might want to pick it up.

Disc Scores