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 ... more »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.« less
Falls Short Of The Original, But Still Good In Its Own Right
Stephen B. O'Blenis | Nova Scotia, Canada | 05/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Vacancy 2: The First Cut follows very close to the original, with the main exception being that it's a prequel where we can see the beginnings of the whole motel-as-deathtrap theme. In place of Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson we have a trio - engaged couple Agnes Bruckner and Trevor Wright, and their friend Arjay Smith - that checks into the secluded motel where the psychotic staff runs their own real-life snuff video outfit, utilizing hidden cameras to film the terrorizing and killing of the hotel's occupants.
In the first Vacancy, the premise was deadly effective and seemed believable; here, it comes off contrived. Part of the problem is that it's a prequel and showing how it all came about just felt forced. Prequels often have a hard time because they often over-explain what didn't need to be explained; in horror prequels it often tries to tear away the shroud of mystery that's remained even after the villain or phenomenon had their origins partially revealed in the original. In Exorcist - The Beginning (Widescreen Edition), it worked because when they went into the backstory that had been hinted at in the original, they retained the element of the unknown by hinting at a much broader backstory way further in the past. In Ginger Snaps Back - The Beginning, it added in a much more otherworldy air of eeriness than its predecessors had. In Vacancy 2, we learn that the motel was originally a set up whereby sleazy employees secretly filmed the sexual encounters of tenants and sold the tapes on the black market; as their profit margin begins to fall they accidentally film a murder in one of the rooms, and subsequently they work out an arrangement with the killer that he keep on this track and they film their murders, switching the nature of their black market product to what they hope will be a more lucrative field. This whole angle, in contrast to the first movie, felt contrived and almost campy to me. From then on (this set-up part all gets handled in the first 15 minutes or so) the movie rapidly gets better. It never manages to match the scares and razor-taut tension of the original, but it's pretty good in its own right. The ending, however, didn't feel like it completely synced with what we know comes after it.
Alright, there's the negatives. Here's the positives: judged on its own merits, this is actually a fine horror thriller. While I said it didn't match the scares and tension of the first, that was an awfully high bar, and Vacancy 2 manages some suspense and fright of its own. It's more violent this time (most of the really vicious carnage in the first one was seen in relatively short glimpses - it was a masterpiece when it came to using measured doses of gore and brutality to suggest much more and really ratchet up the fear of what was coming around the next corner), although how much it helps the movie is up for debate. The individual scenes do raise the fright factor a bit, but it doesn't sustain its tension long enough, and after well-done examples of very brutal torture horror like Turistas (Unrated Edition) and most of the Saw series, it didn't have as much shock impact as it might have. Scenes like the victims's desperate flight into the woods, trying to hide in the dark from pursuers who know the forest much better than they do, proved more effective though. The acting in the film was well-done all-around, with frequent horror heroine Agnes Bruckner standing out as usual. The special effects were good and so was the camerawork.
Vacancy 2 had the same writer and the same producers as the original (different director, though), but I feel they may have had more success if they'd skipped the prequel aspect and had it as, say, a copycat situation in a different motel somewhere. Or just done a different horror movie with the theme of an isolated motel, but not attached directly to Vacancy. I'm a big fan of sequels and series - often the more chapters the better - but Vacancy was one horror movie that I'm not sure was really the right pick for a follow-up. It wrapped up pretty definatively, and its lack of a clearly spelled-out origin of its central premise didn't really need to be filled in.
I'm making this movie sound worse than it was. Judged by itself, it's a good horror movie that's definately worth watching, if not necessarily buying. Well made and never boring; I just personally felt it didn't live up to the first one."
Tim Janson | Michigan | 11/19/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
If we have learned anything from horror films it is that if you are out on the road and need a place to stay for the night, find a name brand franchise. Deranged killers tend to shy away from Holiday Inns or Motel Six's. Vacancy 2: The First Cut is a prequel to the moderately entertaining 2007 film, Vacancy. This one starts with a difficult to swallow prologue about how authorities found over 200 videotaped murders at the Pinewood Motel. 200? I mean wouldn't you think that at least a few of those 200 victims might have called a friend, family member, or business associate to say, "...hey, I'm staying at the Pinewood Inn and I'll seeya tomorrow..." And maybe once they disappeared, those friends, relatives or co-workers might have told authorities that the last time they heard from them was the Pinewood Motel? I guess I'm just over thinking it...
Anyway the prologue goes onto say that this film is the story of the first victims, virtually giving away its hand as to the fate of the guests. A young couple, Jessica (Bruckner) and Caleb (Trevor Wright), and their friend, Tanner (Arjay Smith), are traveling to North Carolina when they decide to stop for the night at the Meadowview Inn. To call this place a dump would be an insult to dumps suffice to say that if the person of average common sense saw it, they'd keep driving. A quick intro will show how the motel's operators transitioned from filming secret sex tapes to snuff films with this trio as the first targets. Plans go quickly askew however and soon the three young guests are on the run from the murderous trio of motel workers.
The main thing that Vacancy 2 lacks is that it doesn't have suspense of the first film. In Vacancy, we weren't sure what was happening to the characters. Was someone merely watching them? Messing with them for fun? Here, we already know what the antagonist's intentions are so it fails to build any real tension. Other than the psychopathic Smith, the other two guys are a couple of bumbling idiots who couldn't find their toes in the dark if you removed their shoes for them.
The one definite star of the film is Agnes Bruckner. Here again we have a female hero who proves to be far more courageous and resourceful than her male counterparts. She's also far smarter than her hunters as you'll see when you watch the film. Smith (Scott Anderson) is the lone returnee from the first film as the killer and you'll see what happened to him that necessitates that he wear a mask.
Vacancy 2: The First Cut is not a great film but it's ok for a 90 minute diversion. "
The first cut
Desiree | Missouri, USA | 02/21/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Vacancy's prequel is just your average Horror-thriller actually. In my opinion, it's not as good and suspenseful as the first one. I had higher expectations for this one, so it fell a little short for me. What I did like is that it adhered right to it's endeavor of making more sense of the original's premise, like a prequel should (not always the case with prequels and sequels). There's not much character development however, so you don't care much about them (just a lot of arguing); but there is decent acting, effects, and cinematography here. Overall I thought it was ok."
Dayna Newman | Tampa | 04/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed "Vacancy 2" and found it to be quite believable .I also love that scream queen vixen Agnes Bruckner was the heroine. I actually liked it as well as the first one. there was plenty of action and some good kill scenes nothing over the top but it's very well done. Your not going to find lots of gore but you will see believable kills and it's not mindless teenagers you don't care about being killed but well esablished likeable characters except for one at the beginning we know nothing about , so that makes it all the more disturbing but effective to watch. Again the powerplay at the end of the movie is really a good one and makes for a tense and exciting watch. "
Not Outstanding, Still Watchable Prequel
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 11/13/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Vacancy 2: The First Cut" is not a "sequel" to the thriller "Vacancy" (2007) starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson. This direct-to-DVD film is a "prequel" that chronicles the origin of the horrible events at the lonely roadside motel called "Meadow View Inn." Agnes Bruckner, Trevor Wright and Arjay Smithplay are the hapless travelers from a big city, who choose the wrong place to rest for the night.
About 10 or 15 minutes in, "Vacancy 2: The First Cut" shows us what kind of "business" the motel owner Gordon (David Moscow) and his partner are really engaged in. This deprives the film of urban legend-like mystery and suspense considerably, though there are still a few twists and turns in the storyline.
All in all the film is watchable with nice photography and production designs. The suspense set-pieces themselves are decent, but it is slightly irritating to see all characters - "both good" and "bad" ones - constantly making stupid decisions. Why don't they just run into the woods? Why doesn't she finish off the guy when she has a chance? While the screenplay by Mark L. Smith (who also wrote for the original) tries to develop characters (and it doesn't work much), it never explains some parts of the film that look very silly.
Unlike such terrible products as "The Cell 2," "Vacancy 2: The First Cut" remains watchable throughout. Among the many direct-to DVD sequels/prequels that attempt to cash in on the more famous originals, "Vacancy 2: The First Cut" is a better one. How much better depends on your expectation, though."