The Vault: Bank-Heist Horror Bore
Francesca EastwoodJames Franco...
In 1 Cinema
While it certainly has its fair share of problems, The Vault – the latest heist-horror mash-up from The Signal’s director Dan Bush – isn’t entirely awful. But then again, it’s not as intriguing or as quite put-together as it thinks itself to be, with the fusion of the two genres – see it done much better in Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk till Dawn – not quite sticking together as they should be.
The film is mostly set in what appears to be an ordinary bank – which year and which city is unclear – and it starts things off on what seems like a relatively ordinary business day. We can see a young blonde woman named Leah (Eastwood), daughter of the legendary Clint Eastwood, applying for a job whilst, another young woman Vee (Manning) is busy complaining to a teller that doesn’t seem to know how to help her. There is a lot of noise and commotion going on outside, with the sirens signalling a fire happening down the road.
The tension in the bank is palpable and it soon becomes clear that the two ladies – as well as three men dressed in fireman suits who soon walk into the bank – are working together. It turns out the two girls are estranged sisters wanting to help their brother, Michael (Haze) out of a sticky situation with the mob. Their intention is not to hurt anybody, but after finding out that there is not much money available to them, things escalate. Enter Ed (Franco sleepwalking through the role while sporting a ridiculous handlebar moustache); a seemingly reserved bank employee who soon steps in to tell them that there is a secret vault located in the basement. However, said basement, which no one ever visits, bears a secret of its own which, as they soon learn, was never meant to be uncovered.
When it comes to bank-robbery movies, it is always exciting to watch – and feel – that tension rise; that feeling of terrorising anticipation taking place just before everything is about to go down. The Vault, although nowhere near as convincing as heist-classics such as Heat or Point Break, allows that tension to grow in a slow and purposeful manner, slowly drawing its audience into the story. Getting things off to a relatively strong start, the talent in the movie also helps elevate the picture above the usual B-movie mediocrity and flimsiness, with both Eastwood and Manning delivering solid performances of two estranged sisters whose approach to the job at hand is different in many ways.
However, as interesting as its opening minutes may be, Bush, who co-wrote the script with Conal Byrne, is a little confused on what kind of story he wants to tell, with the film soon losing its footing as soon as the basement vault comes into focus. The transition into the supernatural part of the story – with its details told to us through a series of poorly conveyed and exposition heavy dialogues – is not as shocking as it wants to be with the mysterious basement creatures failing to induce any genuine scares. It doesn’t really help that we can’t see them all that well, either
On the whole, The Vault has an interesting premise, but its clumsy execution brings it down quickly, and settles on a ridiculously twisted ending. Failing to bring heist and horror together, the entire thing feels like a missed opportunity.