Vacancy appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. The movie displayed decent visuals but not an optimal transfer.
Though sharpness usually seemed fine, it occasionally took a hit. Most of the elements displayed good delineation and clarity, but wider shots tended to come across as a bit iffy and undefined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed some light edge enhancement at times. As for source flaws, I saw a couple of small specks but otherwise the movie was clean.
Colors stayed very subdued. The movie focused on a brownish palette without many examples of bright tones. Within the production design, the hues appeared fine, but they appeared somewhat lackluster. Blacks tended to be a little drab, while shadows were slightly dense. The image was good enough for a “B-“, but don’t expect anything better than that.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Vacancy, it stayed rather low-key most of the time. This wasn’t the kind of horror flick that poured on the slam-bang effects. Instead, it tended to favor general atmosphere. Most of the action came in short bursts such as when the baddies banged on the motel room walls or one came after David in a car. The track popped to life well on those occasions and also involved the surrounds to a satisfying degree, but not a lot of these sequences appeared.
Audio quality was good. A few lines seemed a bit brittle, but most of the speech was natural and concise. Music seemed lively and dynamic, and effects followed along the same lines. Those elements featured good range and impact. This mix was too subdued for anything over a “B”, but I found nothing problematic about it.
A few extras fill out the set. Checking In: The Cast and Crew of Vacancy runs 21 minutes, 36 seconds as it offers movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from director Nimrod Antal, writer Mark L. Smith, producer Hal Lieberman, executive producers Brian Paschal and Glenn Gainor, production designer John Gary Steele, director of photography Andrzej Sekula, stunt coordinator Lance Gilbert, and actors Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale, Frank Whaley, and Ethan Embry. We learn a little about the flick’s inspirations, story and character topics, performance choices, the director’s work, sets and locations, cinematography, shooting the “snuff films”, stunts, and a few general production thoughts.
“Checking” mixes good production notes with the usual promotional fluff. Because of that, the show becomes acceptably satisfying but not thorough enough to be memorable. While it offers enough substance to make it worthwhile, it can’t turn into anything particularly strong.
A collection of Extended Snuff Films lasts a total of eight minutes, 48 seconds. With these, we get a closer look at the videos briefly seen in the film. To some degree, they’re better viewed as short snippets since the acting isn’t always so hot. Nonetheless, it’s cool to view them in a more intense manner.
We also find two Deleted Scenes. These include “Raccoon Encounter” (1:25) and “Alternate Opening Sequence” (1:15). The former offers a very minor extension to the segment in which David and Amy walk to the motel from their car; a raccoon pops out while he takes a pee. In the latter, we see the aftermath of the couple’s time at the motel but no specifics; I guess someone figured the movie needed a sign of things to come. It didn’t, so both of these cuts made sense.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Blu-Ray DVDs, 30 Days of Night, Resident Evil: Extinction, and Vantage Point. These also appear in the Previews domain along with clips for I Know Who Killed Me, Revolver, Perfect Stranger, Rise: Blood Hunter, Hostel Part II, Bobby Z and Fearnet.com. No trailer for Vacancy appears here.
If you want to find a flick that combines a Hitchcock vibe with the “snuff film” tone of many modern horror movies… keep looking. Vacancy aspires to provide the best of both worlds but instead just becomes a tedious effort without any real drama on display. The DVD gives us acceptable picture and audio as well as a few decent extras. This is a mediocre release for a forgettable film.