Experience the gruesome beginnings of Mr. Smith and his hotel of horrors in this terrifying prequel to Vacancy, starring Agnes Bruckner (Murder by Numbers). Suspecting only a night of hard beds and tacky décor, Caleb, his sexy new fiancée Jessica and his sarcastic best friend Tanner, check into the Meadow View Inn. They have no idea that it is not just another lonely motel, but a horrific trap where guests are brutally tortured and murdered while the sadistic maniac Mr. Smith and his greedy accomplices film the grisly slayings for profit. Caught in a deadly game or cat and mouse, the three young friends now must fight to survive.
The original Vacancy (2007) was an efficient low-budget
exercise in tension, set entirely in an isolated motel where
a young couple find themselves the next victims of a snuff
film. And if you recall, the couple played by Luke Wilson
and Kate Beckinsale managed to outwit and outlast the two
killers at the end.
of setting up a similar premise with a new set of copycat
villains, Vacancy 2: The First Cut actually goes back in time
to explore how a certain Mr Smith (played by Scott Anderson
in both movies) came to be the killer that terrorized the
dwellers in the first Vacancy. Contrary to what you would
expect, this direct to DVD release actually ends up being
just as effective as its earlier counterpart.
big reason why it works is because writer Mark L. Smith (who
also wrote the first Vacancy) spends time building up the
story of how the killers came to be. So rather than just plunging
head-on into the slasher scenes, we get a convincing yarn
of how the two owners of Meadow View Inn, who already were
using hidden cameras to make porn films out of their customers,
stumble upon one sadistic Mr Smith.
what could be a statement of our times, the two owners, Gordon
(David Moscow) and Reece (Brian Klugman), realise from the
dwindling profits they have been getting that the in-thing
these days is not porn, but torture porn- hence the expediency
of recruiting Mr Smith into their economic venture. And as
you’d expect, the tension here is not just from their
victims, but among the awkward alliance of the trio- Gordon,
Reece and Smith.
of course, if you’re just here to get more of the original
Vacancy, there’s still plenty to satisfy you. The unfortunate
roomers this time round are a young soon-to-be-married couple,
Jessica (Agnes Bruckner) and Caleb (Trevor Wright), as well
as Caleb’s wisecracking buddy Tanner (Arjay Smith).
It takes a while to get to the thrills, but when it does,
rest assured that it is just as gripping as the former.
Eric Bross does a surprisingly competent job of setting up
the events in the movie, achieving a fine balance between
the perspectives of the victims and that of the killers. And
though the guerrilla-style hand-held camera technique has
of late somewhat lost its novelty factor, he uses it effectively
in this movie to racket up the suspense and make the fear
and terror of the couple onscreen more immediate and real.
Vacancy 2 makes up for what story the first Vacancy may have
lacked by focusing not just on the victims, but also the killers
and how they came to be. It also is more credible in how it
does not confine its events to the motel itself. Don’t
let the fact that this has no big-name cast fool you into
thinking this is one of those horror only movies fit for the
DVD junkyard- it is most certainly not, and I guarantee you
if you enjoyed the first, you’ll enjoy this as well.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD comes with a lively commentary by
no less than 5 people- director Eric Bross, producer Hal Lieberman,
executive producer Brian Paschal, and cast members Agnes Bruckner
and David Moscow.
are also two Behind the Scenes Featurettes- the first Behind
The Scenes of Vacancy 2 talks about the inspiration
behind this prequel, and the second Constructing the
Meadow View Inn tells of how production designer
Stephen McCabe built the entire motel set on a parking lot
in one of California’s national forests.
there are also 3 Deleted Scenes that are
seriously not worth your time.
visual transfer that retains nicely the colours and hues of
the mostly dark settings in the movie. The Dolby 5.1 audio
track also works efficiently to help build up the tension.
by Gabriel Chong