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PCR # 369  (Vol. 8, No. 16)  This edition is for the week of April 16--23, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

The Tampa Film Review for April  by Nolan Canova, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods
"Vacancy"  by Mike Smith
"Grindhouse" - What Happened?  by Andy Lalino
Today I'm a Hokie....Revulsed....Speaking Of....Forget the Ides of March....Let's Not Forget....Movie Notes....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 16: Gary Busey  by Mike Smith
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Screen Gems     
Starring: Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley and Ethan Embry
Directed by: Nimrod Antal
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hours 30 mins

On a dark night a lone car heads down a two lane highway. Suddenly braking for a foraging raccoon, David Fox (Wilson) wakes his sleeping wife, Amy (Beckinsale). Too bad, since they had been arguing up until she fell asleep. Stopping at a conveniently open filling station with amazingly cheap gas prices, they are greeted by a friendly mechanic (Embry) who gives them directions to the interstate. However, before they get a mile down the road their car breaks down. Didn't they just pass a hotel?

An above average thriller, "Vacancy" manages to take the standard horror film plot (late night car breakdown, no help for miles, overly creepy hotel manager (Whaley) that makes Norman Bates look harmless) and still get enough jumps and jolts to keep you on the edge of your seat for a week. Given a room at the very empty Pinewood Motel, David and Amy soon discover, through a series of video tapes, that the room has been the setting for a series of brutal murders. They soon find themselves playing cat and mouse with the hotel manager and a couple of his henchmen, who stalk the couple from room to room.

Much of the "scare" credit must go to director Antal, whose camera angles and use of light and reflection always makes it seem like danger is right around the corner. Or in the room next door. Or in the bathroom. When David discovers a series of tunnels under the motel, the claustrophobic chase through its many corridors makes you as breathless as the characters on screen. Both Wilson and Beckinsale give strong performances, as does Whaley. If there is a drawback to the film, it's the script, which is filled with too many little things that seem to get in the way of the action. Some mention is made, in a throwaway comment, that David and Amy recently lost their son. However, this seems to be brought up only when they need something to argue about. While I'm sure the tragedy might play into the characters' attitudes, it only distracted me.

If you're looking for a good old-fashioned scary film, the kind that leads to covered eyes and holding hands, then I recommend you check into "Vacancy."

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Vacancy"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Vacancy" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.