Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008)
Directed by Eric Bross
Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Trevor Wright, Arjay Smith and David Moscow
This film is a prequel to Vacancy (2007). I liked that movie, as I said in my review of it HERE. In THIS film, we learn of the origins of the sick and demented happenings at the Meadow View Inn, a name one one the characters makes fun of, implying how “backwoods and small-town” it is…he’s right. (Trust me, I have family in one of those towns where there is only one street and it’s a dirt road, the town church is the biggest building and the grocery store and school are in the next town over. Believe me, I’m fully aware of what he’s referencing. And no. I don’t live in that small town.)
BUT, this little motel of horrors is outside a town I would think is similar to that and yet, it is no place for the weary to rest. Among the many that seek to catch some relaxation or restful sleep are some honeymooners who unwittingly play a part in a voyeur porn video. Plus, a sneaky guy that lures a girl to the room and kills her, creating a snuff film, unbeknownst to him.
The motel owners catch him and tie him up, striking a deal with him and their porn video buyer to start a new business selling snuff films and splitting the profits. I, personally, think the killer guy was already a serial killer but, that’s just me.
Their first set of victims are a trio, a young couple, Jessica and Caleb and their friend, Tanner. They are moving Jessica and Caleb to North Carolina from Chicago, Tanner is along for the ride, and to be extra muscle since Jessica is pregnant. They quickly figure out after checking into their room that they are being watched and want to leave. The serial killer decides that, after watching how scared Jessica is acting, instead of just killing them right away it would be more fun to taunt and scare them before killing them and two of them head off to scare them while the manager stays behind to watch on the television screen.
Meanwhile, Jessica and Caleb and Tanner pack their stuff and head out the door to their car to leave. Caleb tries to start the car but nothing happens. Soon they are corned by two trucks from two different directions and a game of cat and mouse ensues while one of the bad guys films the whole exchange, taunting the young victims, Caleb, calling him by his name.
As they flee from their car searching for safety, they are shot at by one of their crazy stalkers and they run back into one of the motel rooms. This is reminiscent of the first Vacancy. While they are hiding in the room Jessica realizes the bad guy knows Caleb’s name and they surmise they can be heard by their stalkers.
Caleb and Jessica quickly formulate a plan for Caleb to try to get to their moving trailer to try to get a weapon while Tanner thinks it would be better to just flee aimlessly into the wilderness (banner idea). They decide to climb out an open window in the bathroom. Caleb is the last to climb out and as he does he is grabbed and knocked out by our killers. They tie him to a chair and while Jessica and Tanner are trying to break in to free him, he is stabbed to death. Seeing this, they run in terror towards the woods and their would be killers chase after them, video camera and murder weapon in hand.
While running through the woods Tanner has a close encounter with one of the killers but is saved when Jessica knocks the masked man out with a log and they escape once again. This too is caught on film. (Maybe they should sell THAT…asshats.)
Tanner and Jessica find a house and an older couple that live inside. They tell them about these guys from the motel down the way that are trying to kill them and think the older gentleman is going to call the police to help them. Instead they find out he calls the motel manager and all three bad guys show up, kill the older couple and take Tanner and Jessica back to the motel.
Jessica wakes up gagged and tied to a chair. Tanner is apparently now dead. The two original motel film makers are now wanting out of the whole deal and the serial killer is the one doing all the killing anyways. They are thinking of getting out and pinning the whole thing on him. While they are arguing Jessica is breaking her bindings.
Now, the killer goes to the room and is toying with Jessica. He’s thinking of strangling her instead of stabbing her. But, he’s in for a surprise. While he’s telling her of one of his previous exploits she takes a knife from behind her back and stabs him in the face. She then runs free.
She hides under a porch or deck of some kind and there she finds the stash of bodies, including her boyfriend and Tanner, who isn’t actually dead yet. Tanner is gurgling and making noise, trying to talk and breathe and this causes one of the bad guys to come under the deck to look. In a genius move, Jessica hides under Caleb’s body and when the bad guy looks at it to inspect she thrusts it up at him, sending him upward, impaling his head on the bare nails hanging out of the planks out wood, killing him.
Jessica goes to get Tanner out from under the deck but, he’s dead. She grabs the bad guy’s shotgun and crawls out herself. She sees the serial killer with tissue stuffed in the hole she put in his face (hysterical to me) and runs.
Now, at the beginning when Tanner is making fun of the small-town name of the motel, he also makes fun of the fact that Jessica grew up being taught how to hunt. Now this hunting girl has a shotgun and is in fear for her life. She already knows how to hunt for FOOD mind you. And keep in mind hunters are usually patient and fairly smart.
The motel manager begins looking around for Jessica. He follows her to a little pond. He feels around in the pod with a stick until he feels what he thinks is a piece of her clothing and then takes out his knife, ready to stab her in the water. Just then, we see the barrel of the shotgun slowly come up out the water and shoot him in the back, followed by Jessica rising up and catching getting air, the shotgun in her hands. She hears the serial killer holler out for his pal and she quickly runs off.
Jessica-2 Killers-4 (As a group, this is their total so far and it’s really only the serial killer doing the killing, plus I’m not counting the serial killer’s initial kill and this DOES include the older couple) Pretty impressive since it took the killers the whole movie and her literally like five minutes so far.
She decides to hide in the moving trailer and the serial killer finds her. In the struggler she throws a flammable liquid on him and sets him on fire. This gives her the opportunity to escape.
She is picked the next day on the road. The cops are called and taken to the motel. But there are no bodies, no cameras. Nothing. Nothing except Jessica’s story and blank traumatized stare.
We then see our serial killer and the snuff film entrepreneur making a deal for the film of Tanner in a new motel, talking about when the copies can be made and when things will be up and running.
Like the first one, I enjoyed this film. I thought it wasn’t near as predictable as the first and I’m surprised it was a straight to video release. I really didn’t think that Jessica was going to survive either. I mean, I was watching the whole time thinking, “Okay, when is the pregnant chick going to bite it?” because that’s what horror movies do. But, there were some really good twists in this movie. I loved what a kind of badass Jessica turned out to be. It’s not like she’s Lara Croft or Mrs. Smith or anything like that but, she’s like the regular country girl that can totally whoop ass when messed with. The only thing that irritated me about her was that she cried and cried over Caleb dying, who frankly it wasn’t a shocker that he was the first of the trio to die, he was definitely the weakest of the group. She was a bit whiny about the whole “he’s not dead, he’s not dead” for a minute there but, thankfully, Tanner brought her silly ass back to reality really quick. Too bad he didn’t make it. Honestly, they probably would have made a better couple. Caleb seemed a little too insecure for a down home country girl like Jessica. But then again, Tanner seemed a little too “city” too so, I don’t know.
I also would have liked a little more of the taunting and scare tactics maybe. They don’t spend much time in the motel AT ALL. After the scene with the trucks and the quick playing of cat and mouse, there really isn’t much in the way of the kind of taunting that we get in the first one. It becomes more of a chase movie where the killer just runs after victims and kills.
I did like that we went through a whole array of guests though. I also caught myself thinking very early on in the film, “Wow! This is one messed up motel!” I also found myself briefly wondering how many motels I’ve stayed in where there were murders committed and microphones and cameras hidden in the rooms. That sort of weirded me out. It also made me want to remember to always check the TV channels to see if I can see my room or any other rooms as soon as I check in, JUST IN CASE.
I actually think this movie couple with the first would make a great duo for a movie night. It’s definitely something I will be watching again.
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