Luke Wilson: stick to what you do best.
, directed by a guy from Budapest named Nimrod Antal (seriously), is a balls-out terrible movie. And it's painful to watch a good comic actor like Wilson in a shitty horror movie—where he seems lost and confused, like the child who wanders into the middle of a movie and…you get the point.
Here's what happens in Vacancy
: Wilson and Kate Beckinsale's Bimmer
breaks down in the middle of the night on a country road. They check in to the Honeymoon Suite at a roadside motel. Turns out the front desk clerk Mason, played by Frank Whaley (who looks like Norman Bates had he worked at Stumptown), habitually kills everyone who stays at the motel. He videotapes himself, and his two buddies, doing the nasty deeds (one of his masked cohorts happens to be bizarrely cast with the once so cute-and-adorable Ethan Embry, of Empire Records
fame). Mason sells the snuff videos to local truckers. Once Wilson and Beckinsale figure out what's going on, what ensues is a bad mix of the Three Little Pigs and Scream
—the killers huff and puff and pound on the motel room door. For over an hour. It gets old really fast.
What's sad is that I think poor Nimrod actually thought he was making a great movie.
What saved the flick was the packed-to-the-brim crowd at last night's screening at Southeast 82nd's Century Eastport Cinemas. It was the kind of rowdy audience Quentin Tarantino surely ran into and loved at the real grindhouses he attended as a kid. When the killers popped out of nowhere, all the girls in the theater let out a deafening shriek. When Beckinsale inevitably opened the door she's not supposed to open, voices throughout the auditorium yelled directly at the screen without shame, “Don't open that door, bitch!” When creepy-crawlies walked across the bathroom floor, there was a resounding chorus of “eeewwww.” It was like an especially rowdy screening of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show
To top it off, at the movie's climax (if there actually was one), a teenage girl next to me opened her cellphone to respond to a text message. The glowing light from her phone infuriated a gray-haired feller sitting behind us. The theater instantly morphed into a makeshift Jerry Springer set. The man took no time to get out of his seat, screaming at her, “What the hell are you doing? You can't do that—don't you know it's illegal to use a cellphone during a movie. Get out of here right now!”
By that point, it felt like no one was watching the movie anymore. The unscripted drama unfolding before us was far more exciting than the bland, scripted one on screen. One person chimed in to the teenage girl, “Yeah, get your ass out of here—and never come back! You ruined the experience for all of us!”
Of course the big irony was that the unassuming girl did us all a favor. At least that gal made our night interesting, because Vacancy
had already ruined the experience all on its own. R.
LANCE KRAMER. Pioneer Place, Eastport, Division, Oak Grove, Cedar Hills, Cornelius, Hilltop, Sherwood, Tigard Cinemas, Wilsonville, Cinema 99, City Center, Vancouver Plaza.