Nimród Antal may not be an innovative director but he is a canny creator of endearingly sincere B-movies. Vacancy in that sense is an important though not a huge step forward from the clunky sentimentality and cloying cliches of his debut film Kontroll (2003), a fantasy about the warring forces of good and evil in the Hungarian transit system. Thanks to Mark L. Smith's superbly pared down screenplay, Antal does not try to re-create any generic wheels with Vacancy but rather to perfect an existing formula. The Foxes, Amy and David (Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale), are lost so they pull over at the wrong motel and end up getting terrorized by Mason (Frank Whaley), the proprietor, who makes snuff films out of security footage. Antal and Smith understand full-well that they're working in the shadow of many lesser films and even a giant or two (Antal winks at Psycho by prominently featuring pewter statues of birds at the motel's front desk). The fun for Antal and Smith and for us is seeing them translate their earnest passion for the genre into details that are both realistic without seeming forced, stylized without seeming preposterous. Everything is in its place and no creative decision ever appears flagrantly mismatched with the film's stock plot. The fact that Antal was given the opportunity to translate Kontroll's success into something this good bodes very well for people who still believe that non-gimmicky mainstream horror films can still be straight-forward and visceral.
To read the rest of the article at Extended Cut, click here. Antal's latest film, Armored, is now in theaters. Click here to read Simon's Slant Magazine review.