(I got a few requests to do some *positive* retro reviews, and that seems like a perfectly logical thing to ask for. Here's one!)

I see dozens of "suspense thrillers" that deliver (maybe) two or three half-hearted attempts at actual suspense, only to follow those moments up with 12-18 minutes of aimless plot-wanderings and general actor-babble. Kinda tough to keep an intense tone going when you've got a bunch of generic and arbitrary subplots that you have to keep cutting to. Nimrod Antal's Vacancy, on the other hand, is a crisp and appreciably intense little horror flick that delivers the goods with no muss, no fuss ... and only a few dangling plot threads that prevent it from being a complete success.

Borrowing a few pages from James Mangold's Identity and reminiscent of John Dahl's roadside chillers, Vacancy is the epitome of formula: It's about an estranged married couple who, following an ill-advised detour and an unfortunate automobile mishap, find themselves spending the night in the seriously grungy Pinewood Motel. It's in their motel room that David and Amy Fox discover a pile of old VHS tapes ... all of which contain footage of actual murders that were committed in (you guessed it) the very same hotel room! Turns out you should never patronize a motel that's run by a "snuff film" producer.
categories Reviews, Horror