Facebook Twitter

Film review: ‘Vacancy’ rather empty thriller

SHARE Film review: ‘Vacancy’ rather empty thriller
Owen Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star as David and Amy Fox in the not-so-thrilling thriller "Vacancy."

Owen Wilson and Kate Beckinsale star as David and Amy Fox in the not-so-thrilling thriller “Vacancy.”

Suzanne Tenner, Screen Gems

VACANCY — * — Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley; rated R (violence, profanity, gore, brief drugs, vulgarity, brief nudity).

"Vacancy" is, as its title suggests, pretty empty. Worse, it's an insufferable, poor-taste thriller devoid of substance and almost completely free of scares, not to mention original ideas.

It's also surprisingly dull and listless for a film that clocks in at 80 minutes.

What do stars like Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale see in a project like this ... aside from the paycheck?

They star as David and Amy Fox, a married couple on the verge of divorce. They're on a road trip, and they've been bickering all the way, a situation that only worsens when their car breaks down on a back road in the wee hours of the morning.

So they hoof it back to a nearby run-down motel, hoping to get a little rest. Instead, they discover they're being filmed by the rather sinister motel manager (Frank Whaley). As it turns out, he and some friends are using unfortunate motel guests as subjects/victims for "snuff" films, and David and Amy may be their next "stars."

Director Nimrod Antal showed some real promise with his stylish 2003 art-house hit "Kontroll," but this material proves too elusive for his talents. And screenwriter Mark L. Smith's plotting gets more ridiculous as it goes on.

Whaley's cartoonish performance almost makes his scenes enjoyably campy. He's certainly more interesting than either Wilson or Beckinsale, who are hopelessly bland and annoying.

"Vacancy" is rated R for strong violence and disturbing violent imagery (stabbings, slashings, shootings, strangulation, vehicular mayhem and violence against women), strong sexual language (profanity and crude slang terms), some gore, brief drug content (references to antidepressant medication and tranquilizers), and flashes of female nudity. Running time: 80 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com