September 1st: Nimród Antal: Part 1


180. Vacancy (Nimród Antal, 2007)

This is the start of a little double bill. You might not have heard of Nimród Antal before but you will hear more about him in the coming years as he has just signed with Robert Rodriguez’ Troublemaker studios to direct the reboot (possibly a prequel) in the Predator franchise. Well, upon hearing this news I thought it’d be about time to see what he has directed so far.

Vacancy is Antal’s American debut and it’s a pretty assured way to make your start. David and Amy Fox are a couple on the verge of divorce, their relationship has dissolved to the point that they just snipe at each other all the time. During the course of a car journey home from their relatives David takes a short-cut and the car breaks down, they opt to spend the night in a strange little motel and wait for the garage to open in the morning. When watching one of the strange slasher videos left by television they notice that the room where these people are being brutally murdered looks very familiar indeed.

Watching Vacancy feels a little like watching an audition tape from a director on the up. The set-up is quick and efficient and the script works in creating a believably on-the-ropes relationship. When the action starts and the locals start to torment the couple, Antal gets to show off his repertoire. He has a fantastic ability to use the camera in limited spaces, so despite Vacancy predominantly taking place within the confines of two or three motel rooms and a network of tunnels the tension never dulls. On this evidence Antal should be able to ratchet up some tension with one of the best loved creature features from the 80s. As for Vacancy – it’s a taut, nasty little film that doesn’t outstay its welcome and has the decency to avoid a trite ending.