Reviews: the bank heist meets horror in The Vault
Directed by Dan Bush,
Starring Francesca Eastwood, Taryn Manning, Scott Haze, Q’Orianka Kilcher, Clifton Collins Jr., James Franco
The classic bank heist going wrong film meets horror flick. Two sisters join their deadbeat brother on a bank robbery. He’s deep in with a gang and owes them a lot of cash. In order to get out that situation they help him taking over a bank. But the cash haul is far less than expected, and their family problems are a frequent source of conflict. A bank employee helps the thieves to break into a forgotten vault that is in the basement, promising a bigger take, but by going after this prize they will unwittingly unleash the victims of a previous robbery and the thief who slaughtered them all. The dead will bank on the greed of the living thieves.
The biggest thing that annoys me in movies is when big-name stars go into a project and then do little or nothing. It’s happened this year a few times, just look at Helen Mirren in the latest Fast and Furious film; there had to be dozens of other stars who could have done that role, and I have to say, sadly, do itt better. Here in The Vault it’s James Franco’s turn to show up, scowl, say about three lines, and then be done.
The truth is that while Franco is the biggest name, and a good actor, he’s the weakest point of the film. I felt that without him that this could have been a future classic horror film. But the times that the film cuts to him just starring glumly at the CCTV screen offers nothing to the story, and we could have had so much more explanation to the film instead; it’s just a little off putting. His character suffers from these visions of the previous bank robbery, many years ago, and they are horrific. It turns out that the previous robbery was done by a masked sociopath who killed everyone in the bank for no reason. All of these victims are now locked into the basement and just waiting to be unleashed.
If you took out Franco’s character, replaced it with a detective explaining the previous robbery at the start, and concentrated on the gore that the film makers are able to produce you’d have one of the best horrors of the year. Clifton Collins Jr. plays the detective, another great actor, who should have been given more to do in this film. I will say that the sisters played by Francesca Eastwood and Taryn Manning have a great sisterly chemistry together, and it would have been nice for their history to be examined more as the tension between the two is just brilliant and adds to the isolation and horror to come.
When The Vault is cracked open, like Pandora’s Box, and the evil escapes, the previous thief and his victims start to terrorize the criminals trying to get the millions stored in this secret safe. There are some really thoughtful horror moments with some of the early demises, using a blend of both practical and computer effects. These moments could have also been expanded, I think, but it’s nice to see the thought that is in there.
The Vault is a horror film that has enough moments of the classic horror genre to make it enjoyable, but when you see and think of the ‘What could have been!’ moments you start to feel frustrated. For me the simple changes and a rather obvious element being left out, along with the expansion of Clifton Collins Jr.’s role would have made this one of the better horror films of the year. I will give them an A for effort though.
The Vault is released in the UK on September 8th in cinemas, iTunes and Digital HD.