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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Vacancy 2: The First Cut
Vacancy 2: The First Cut
Sony Pictures // R // January 20, 2009
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted January 20, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

When Vacancy proved itself to be a bit of a sleeper hit with horror fans a couple of years ago, it seemed only a matter of time before the filmmakers would go back to the well. That time has come, although instead of a sequel, this follow up is actually a prequel that attempts to explain just how and why the hotel that terrorized Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale in the first film became the death trap that it was.

When the film begins, a pair of hillbilly hotel operators named Gordon (David Moscow) and Reece (Brian Klugman) are watching a honeymooning couple get it on by way of the video surveillance system they've installed in room six. After the couple takes off, a man who calls himself Smith (Scott G. Anderson) checks in with a prostitute. As the couple head to their room, Gordon and Reece sit in front of the monitor to watch, but are shocked to see the man cut up the women with a knife. They Smith out and tie him up, unsure what to do with the man. After all, going to the cops would ruin their little side business.

When the man who buys their tapes shows up and gets a look at the murder that they've caught on tape, he tells them to get him as many copies as they can. This gives Gordon and Reece and idea - they figure they can make some pretty serious cash by teaming up with Smith and murdering more people on camera. Enter three friends - Caleb (Trevor Wright), his pregnant girlfriend Jessica (Agnes Brucker), and his pal Tanner (Arjay Smith) - who are on their way to North Carolina. They stop for the night and soon find out that not only are they being watched, but they're going to be the starring as the victims in their very own snuff movie!

Dark, gory and quickly paced, Vacancy 2 doesn't bring anything new to the genre but it does manage to provide a few good jump scares and generate a fair bit of tension. Moscow and Klugman are good in their roles as the dimwitted hotel employees while Anderson brings a welcome sense of menace to his part making him fairly believable as a mass murderer/psychopath. Wright, Brucker and Smith, on the other hand, are completely forgettable in their parts not so much because of their acting (which is decidedly mediocre) but because their characters are essentially cardboard. The villains aren't fleshed out any better than the heroes are, but at least the villains are interesting.

The story is pretty simple and the film isn't really any different than the countless other stalk and slash horror films out there, but it's nicely photographed and competently made and it does contain a couple of solid kill scenes. You won't walk away from this one wanting to watch it over and over again but it entertains for an hour and a half.

The Video:

Vacancy 2: The First Cut arrives on DVD in a solid 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that generally looks pretty sharp. Considering how much of this film takes place at night, it's to Sony's credit that the black levels look as strong as they do here without ever obscuring detail. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts to note nor is there any obvious edge enhancement. A couple of shots are a bit on the soft side and there's a little bit of shimmering evident in a few spots but aside from that, the image is strong and stable from start to finish.

The Audio:

The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on this disc is actually very strong. There's plenty of surround activity during the chase scenes that help to build some very welcome atmosphere while bass response is strong and punchy. The levels are all well balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to complain about at all. Dialogue remains clean and clear from start to finish and the score has some nice distinct clarity to it.

The Extras:

The supplements start off with a commentary track that comes courtesy of director Eric Bross, producer Hal Leiberman, executive producer Brian Paschal, and actors Agnes Bruckner and David Moscow. A lot of this track is made up of the participants joking around but they tell some interesting stories about putting this picture together. Bross has the most to say about the film but everyone gets a few words in here and there and while this won't change your opinion of the mediocre film, it is a very active and fairly engaging discussion that documents its production history.

From there, check out the two featurettes, the first of which is Caught On Tape: Behind The Scenes Of Vacancy 2 (12:58) which is a simple look at life on set mixed in with some interviews with the principal cast and crew members who discuss their work on this picture. It isn't deep, but some of the footage is interesting to watch. More specialized is Behind The Fa├žade: Constructing The Meadow View Inn (6:35), which features interviews with construction coordinators and art directors who talk about what went in to making the hotel where almost the entire film plays out into the house of horrors we see in the film. Neither featurette is all that intensive, in fact they're both rather superficial, but if you enjoyed the film they're here for you to dig.

Rounding out the extras are a trio of deleted scenes (none of which changes things very much, though they do add some meat on the bones of the ending of the film), bunch of trailers for other Sony DVD and Blu-ray releases (though no trailer for the feature itself), some animated menus, and chapter selection.


A moderately entertaining stalk and slash, Vacancy 2: The First Cut brings nothing new to the genre but is worth a watch for genre fans looking for a disposable slice of horror. Sony's disc looks and sounds quite nice though the extras aren't anything to write home about. Rent it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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