Variety critic John Anderson feels that the “substantive issue” to be taken with Vacancy, the Luke Wilson-Kate Beckinsdale homicidal- menace film from director Nimrod Antal (Kontroll), “is its reliance on inexplicable cruelty and viciousness.

“Seldom has criminal violence been so unabashedly used for entertainment, in a story in which the criminals are perpetrating violence to be sold as entertainment. It’s doubtful the filmmakers were intending to deliver an oblique moral argument against their own movie, but they did so all the same.”

That aside, Antal “proves himself an able director who has made a highly cinematic movie,” Anderson adds. “Shooter Andrzej Sekula‘s compositions are startling for a film of this ilk, the pace is appropriately brisk and everything clicks, at least visually. Antal may rely on closeups — and extreme closeups — more than anyone since Carl Dreyer, but what he creates is a sense that something is always looming just outside the strangulated frame. Whether it’s David Fox (Wilson), his bitterly estranged wife Amy (Beckinsale), or the crawlingly evil motel clerk Mason (Frank Whaley), neither they, nor viewers, ever seem to be alone.”