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December 10, 2007
Vacancy - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
20/4/200719/12/2007Sony PicturesNimród Antal
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps
PCM 5.1 4.6Mbps
MA15+Kate Beckinsale
Luke Wilson

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This room needs a good clean.
I recall seeing the trailer for Vacancy in the cinemas around the beginning of this year. It looked like a decent horror/suspense movie, with two fantastic lead actors, and certainly a solid enough premise. For one reason or another I never managed to see it in the cinemas though, so when this Blu-Ray disc headed my way I was keen to check it out.

When David and Amy Fox's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they are forced to spend the night at the only motel around, with only the TV to entertain them... until they discover that the low-budget slasher videos they find in their room were all filmed in the very room they're sitting in. With hidden cameras now aimed at them... trapping them in rooms, crawlspaces, underground tunnels... and filming their every move, David and Amy must struggle to get out alive before they end up the next victims on tape.

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Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson
While not generally a fan of the horror/suspense genre I have to admit that I was pretty keen to see this movie if only for Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. Sadly it wasn't too long before we realised just how much of a disappointment this movie was likely to be. In fact, we had the entire plot determined pretty much within the first couple of minutes - what would happen, who the bad guys were, and how it would end. In terms of acting Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale put in fine performance as a couple with their marriage on the rocks, but having to come together to survive. The highlight for me though in terms of acting was the performance of Frank Whaley as Mason. From the moment you see him on screen you know there is something shift going on (and it's not due to the torturous screams in the background!). There is something likable about the guy, but he's not one you'd leave your kids with thats for sure.

Ultimately we were left in two minds about this movie. On the one hand it's nice to see suspense put back into the horror genre, rather then the blood and gore of other recent movies, and yet on the other hand it felt a little lightweight - perhaps to the rather short runtime of only 85 minutes. When you take out the opening and end credits the actual movie probably only runs for 75 minutes or so. By being so short you never find out the motivation behind the culprits. Why were they doing this? For profit? For pleasure? How did it start? Then there are the plot holes. Why wouldn't more cops turn up after the first one? Why doesn't David or Amy try to grab the second gun in the office? All these things leave you wanting a movie with so much more and, like me, you will probably be disappointed with the end result.

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Frank Whaley's as Mason is brilliant.
Video in Vacancy has been encoded in the AVC MPEG-4 codec and overall it looks pretty good. Given that the entire movie, well except for one or two scenes, takes place at night or in artificially lit rooms the transfer is pretty solid. There is some grain evident in a couple of places, but it's fairly minimal. In fact this movie is extremely dark in many scenes with only the actors faces, or parts of the locations visible. Perhaps due to the darkness, or perhaps the transfer I actually felt that this movie was a little soft in places - it certainly doesn't have that 'wow' factor we've come to expect from Blu-Ray discs.

Sony Pictures don't disappoint in the audio either with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps and also a Uncompressed Linear PCM track encoded at 4.6Mbps. Both audio formats are quite accomplished however this isn't a movie which I would use to demo audio. It's quite dialogue driven, with little music, and even fewer big effects to get excited about.

As well as the two main English audio formats the Blu-Ray disc includes English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, Czech 5.1, Hungarian 5.1, and Polish 5.1 audio with each running at 640kbps. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and 18 other languages.

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Lovebirds, on and off screen - for a while.
While this was not a big movie in terms of production or box office being such a recent title from Sony Pictures I expected quite a swag of extras, but was left disappointed. There are a couple of bits here worth watching, but you will hardly even fill in 30 minutes going through all these extras which is disappointing. At least they are presented in High Definition.

Alternate Opening Sequence (1:16/HD):

    As it says, this is an alternate opening sequence. I'm glad they didn't go with this one - it's unnecessary, and a little light in tone.

Checking In: The Cast & Crew of Vacancy (21:36/HD):

    The only real extra on this disc worth your time is this documentary which has interviews with the cast and crew. Unfortunately this feature primarily just covers the plot and characters in the movie there are a few interesting moments including the building of the motel on a massive sound stage.

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Kate Beckinsale looking concerned...
Mason's Video Pics: Extended Snuff Films (8:49/HD):

    Probably the most unique, and disturbing extra is the complete unedited snuff movies that are shown on the TV in the movie. I guess it's interesting, but a little pointless, and certainly not for the kiddies out there!

Raccoon Encounter (1:26/HD):

    Has to be a deleted scene - we guess - although it isn't labeled that way.

Spider-man 3 Trailer (3:03/HD):

    Self explanatory really. Presented in HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps audio as expected.

So the movie didn't exactly have us jumping up and down in excitement, and to be honest it didn't really have us on the edge of our seats either, but if you're a fan of suspense/horror movies then this disc may be worth checking out. The transfer is pretty good while the extras are a little thin on the ground. Is it worth the $42.95rrp? We would have to say no, unless you're a massive fan of the movie. If you've never seen it then perhaps a rental is best.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.