By Mark Ramsey | 2007/04/22

If it comes from Screen Gems, you can bet it’s cubic zirconia. Then again, what can you expect from a movie called Vacancy directed by a man named “Nimrod”?

Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale take a short cut late at night in the middle of nowhere and end up lost, which is how every bad movie would begin if only most didn’t consider it to be cliché.

vacancy_bettermovie.jpg“You don’t even know if we’re in the middle of nowhere or near one of the ends, do you?” Kate asked Luke.

“I’m sorry,” said a dreamy Luke, “I was just picturing the glamorous life of my brother Owen. I can’t remember his number, but I know it starts with ‘555’.”

Luke and Kate lost a child and don’t get along.

“If only danger would strike, it would bring us back together,” said Luke.

“This plot is so formulaic it should come with its own measuring spoon,” sighed Kate.

Fortunately, Luke and Kate come upon a dingy old motel replete with Partridge Family-era furnishings, wall-to-wall surveillance, and hot and cold running Peeping Toms.

Luke pops in a VHS and discovers a snuff film – specifically, a snuff film shot in this very hotel room! Now this is a great concept for a movie – as long as that movie runs no longer than the elevator ride in which it was originally pitched.

vacancy_wave.jpgOne can almost imagine the moment:

Agent: “So this couple is trapped in a motel room watching a snuff film shot in the same hotel room, and they’re next.”

Studio: “What kind of Nimrod would direct that?”

Agent: “Exactly!”

There’s banging on the door – but nobody’s there! There’s a call on the phone – but nobody’s there! Strangers are terrorizing a couple who are simply watching TV! Hey, this used to be Sanjya’s job!

“They kill people who stay in this room and videotape it!” Luke screamed to Kate.

“In that case, I hope there’s a free breakfast buffet,” she replied. “Kate Winslet would get a free breakfast buffet.”

No breakfast buffet, but there’s an extensive series of tunnels under the hotel and the nearby gas station.

“Somebody has seen too many episodes of Hogan’s Heroes,” quiped Luke.

“Definitely not Owen,” said Kate.

“Kate Hudson’s dating Owen,” she added. “Who are you dating?”

“I’m not good with names,” said Luke, “but her number begins ‘555’.”

“Besides,” he added, “Kate may be dating my brother but she doesn’t landscape his Walk-of-Fame star – that’s my job!”

The bad guys chase our heroes through the tunnels on hands and knees. To make things more exciting the film is obviously sped up because nobody on hands and knees can crawl that fast unless their Pabst Blue Ribbon is spiked with castor oil.

So our heroes get busy and are determined to outwit their masked foes and fight back.

“Pretend you’re MacGuyver and you just checked into the Bates Motel,” said Luke.

“Kate Bosworth would never be cast as MacGuyver,” replied a disgruntled Kate.

“Kate Bosworth was shooting Superman Returns while you were negotiating for Underworld 3: Underoos!” said a fed up Luke.

“Mary-Kate Olsen would never dignify that statement with a response,” said Kate.

At least I learned one lesson from Vacancy: Never throw the victim towards a loaded weapon, or there’s likely to be a vacancy between your eyes.

Then again, between your eyes is fine. Just don’t put a Vacancy on your to-do list.

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