Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Agnes Bruckner, David Moscow, Trevor Wright, Arjay Smith, Brian Klugman
Directed by Eric Bross
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
“In April 2007, authorities shutdown the Pinewood Motel. They discovered over 200 videotapes. The earliest tape is dated September 2004. This is the story of the first victims.”
This text appears at the opening of Vacancy 2: The First Cut clearly establishing that this is a prequel to the events of the original film. So why is it that none of the original’s motel proprietors are around (not even played by different actors)? On top of that, the original’s motel was on a remote mountain road where as this motel (judging by the dizzyingly filmed final daylight shots) looked to be sitting out in the middle of flatlands, and the motel sign reads MEADOW VIEW INN?
I liked the original Vacancy. I found it to be an efficient little thriller, not something I’d ever want to watch again, but it entertained me the one time I viewed it. This vastly inferior cash-in plays more like a quickly produced cheapie knock-off of the original than a direct follow-up.
The two guys running the Pinewood Motel … I mean the Meadow View Inn. Whatever. There’s a guy who looks like a seedier version of Frank Whaley’s character from the original and his partner-in-crime looks like a sleazier version of Daniel Stern. They make a little extra money on the side by secretly videotaping their guests’ sexual encounters and selling it to this guy in a trucker hat who then sells the footage to … who knows, who cares?
A serial killer calling himself Mr. Smith rents a room for the night and they catch him on camera murdering a hooker. The two then tie him up and try to figure out what to do next. The dilemma is that if they call the cops their highly illegal video voyeurism enterprise will be found out by the authorities. Mr. Smith proposes they start killing guests and then sell the tapes. Once the guy in the trucker hat lets it be known that there is a market for snuff films, with nary a moment of hesitation, the sleazy motel operators decide to up the ante from secretly videotaping couples having sex to murdering their guests on video for money. That’s quite a leap to make on a spur of the moment notice.
The original’s victims, Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, were an adult couple on the verge of ending their marriage dealing with their own personal grief. This time we get Jessica and Caleb, young, in love, and just getting started in life. In other words, they’re your typically generic modern horror movie victims. All that’s missing is a mouthy African-American sidekick. Oh, wait; they have one. The couple is traveling with their mutual best friend, a young black guy named Tanner.
A black guy named Tanner? That just doesn’t sound right for some reason.
They check into the motel and soon the events of the original film begin to play out in a rushed and considerably dumbed down manner minus any shred of suspense. Because so much time is spent setting up the motel guys going into business with Mr. Smith the movie is already halfway over before it ever even gets started.
The first time around the snuff movie motel operators were cold and calculating. The suspense was derived from the couple’s isolation being trapped in this motel by enigmatic killers who appeared to be in complete control and one step ahead of them. This time the killer’s are bumbling, there’s no mystery to them, and the potential victims escape the motel for chase scenes in the woods and at the home of a nearby elderly couple. There’s an almost laughable scene with the motel manager wading through some nearby swamp water poking around with a stick to smoke out the spot where the heroine is hiding underwater.
The actors, including Blood & Chocolates’ Agnes Bruckner, all acquit themselves well enough that it’s a shame everything they’re involved in is more likely to put you to sleep than keep you on the edge of your seat. The director is shooting for terror that feels raw and visceral (i.e. ditch any attempts at Hitchcockian suspense in favor of more brutal death scenes) but instead winds up with an annoyingly tedious motion picture that manages to be dreary without evoking any sense of dread.
The DVD special features aren’t exactly anything to write home about either. There’s a commentary, a couple of deleted scenes, and two brief featurettes. Something tells me after watching the movie you wont be bothering.
Vacancy 2: The Final Cut is cheap, pointless, boring, and not scary in the slightest. A fitting title; this film is truly vacant. With any luck there will be no more vacancies at this motel, whatever its name may be.
1 out of 5
2 out of 5
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