Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008)

Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008)

If the camera is on, you’re dead

Gordon and Reece, the owners of the Meadow View motel, have an illicit operation of secretly filming young couples having sex and then selling the tapes. This is thrown into chaos when they tape a serial killer murdering a prostitute in one of their rooms. Knocking him out, they debate what to do next but their only evidence lies on their illegal tapes and handing him over to the police would incriminate them. The killer persuades the duo to allow him to continue his work, filming his murders and then selling it on as snuff footage. This is unfortunate for a trio of young friends who arrive at the motel.


Vacancy was a passable entry into an overcrowded torture porn market, perhaps a little more well known that it should be due to the casting of A-listers Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a middle-aged married couple. Shock of horrors – no teenagers in sight! This was about the only thing which made it stand out from a slew of Saw and Hostel wannabes as the promising start quickly descended into a never-ending routine of chase and hide sequences. Inevitably, a follow up was bound to happen and even more inevitably the strongest point of the original, having older characters and decent actors playing them, was to be replaced by bickering teenagers. You knew it was coming.

Vacancy 2: The First Cut is a prequel to the events that happen in the original and it tells the story of how the snuff operation came into being. It is somewhat interesting to see how everything fell into place and at least this part of the story is a little bit different and makes a lot of sense too. But there’s not a whole lot of back story to tell in all honesty and after skipping through it quite quickly, the film shifts into simply being an inferior remake of the original where a few people are terrorised in the motel. No attempt is made to explain why two of the three conspirators are different to those who featured in the original. Maybe they got caught out and the other guy went into business for himself? Who knows? Certainly not the script.

The trouble with this prequel is that the killers have no aura about them. They’re not a mystery to the audience anymore because we’ve seen them before. In the original, we had no idea who these people were or why they were trying to kill. Now, they’re introduced at the start of the film so once they don those rather eerie Perspex masks and get about their business, it’s a little late for the audience to pretend that they’re shocked at the revelations in the finale when they take the masks off. Shocking for the new teenage characters who don’t realise they’ve stopped at a motel run by psychos, not so the audience who know who is behind the killing from the first few scenes.

Once this back story has been skimmed over, the film quickly moves to cover the necessary bases of having more people stay in the motel and end up being chased and killed (actually with this being a prequel, they become the first ones to end up the victims of the new scheme). Vacancy 2: The First Cut then just runs like an inferior remake of the original, producing the same sort of set pieces only without any of the tension or suspense that was present before hand. With the addition of the back story, there’s not even as much time to run through the necessary bases in a steady manner and everything gets rushed along so that the film can finish within a comfortable running time. It’s not like any of it is remotely exciting or scary, in fact just the opposite. Vacancy 2: The First Cut manages to be extremely dull and boring, aimlessly going from room to room or location to location without any real sense of urgency or excitement. There’s some violence and blood on show but it’s all perfunctory and does what it needs to do to tick a couple of boxes.

As I’ve stated, I found it pleasantly surprising that the original chose to focus on a married couple as opposed to some teenage lovers as few horror films showcase older actors in that type of role (I say ‘older’ actors though both Beckinsale and Wilson were in their 30s when Vacancy was made – still elderly as far as horror films go!). So it really grinded on me to find out that the new victims would purposely cater to the younger market like every other slasher and torture porn film out there. I’m probably being too harsh on the teenagers here because it’s not their fault. They try their best and do alright in their roles, it’s just that their roles are one-dimensional and we’ve seen them a million times before. Not least there is the fact that the trio of killers tend to get more screen time than they do. Are we supposed to care for the victims when we know little about them? Is the reason that the killers are given so much screen time is that they’re supposed to be anti-heroes? I don’t get it.


Vacancy 2: The First Cut is kind of a pointless prequel. Apart from a little bit of expansion to the original story, it is too content with rehashing the same routine to be effective. It’s clear that the sole reason for its existence is to make a bit of money upon the name the original. I’m sure teenagers who haven’t seen the first one will no doubt have a blast but anyone with half a horror brain can see the well-worn path that Vacancy 2: The First Cut takes.





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