Vault, The (2017)

Starring James Franco, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, Scott Haze, Clifton Collins, Jr.

Directed by Dan Bush

Horror hybrid films are hardly new but usually fall into the categories of “horror/comedy” or “horror/fantasy.” Recently, however, we’ve been treated to a relatively new type of horror hybrid, the “horror/heist.” Films like House on Willow Street and last year’s critically acclaimed Don’t Breathe feature criminals intent on thieving that get a lot more than they bargained for.

To that end, The Vault plays out in much the same way, but where the former films blended the strongest elements of two vastly different genres to create something unique and interesting, The Vault deals wholly in the worst tropes both genres have to offer, resulting in a convoluted, muddled mess.

The Vault is about a family of thieves who set out to rob a bank in order to raise a large sum of money to pay off a debt one of them owes to a dangerous criminal. The bank they’ve chosen, unfortunately for them, is built on top of the ruins of an older bank that harbors a dark, malevolent secret.

At first glance this is a premise that might lead one to believe that this film is going to be fresh and exciting. After all, how many horror films take place entirely inside a bank, much less during the robbery of said bank? Not many, that’s for sure. It also opens with an effective use of old news clippings and faux archival footage that gives a brief glimpse into the terrible history of the bank, all set to the psychedelic refrain of “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells. By the time the movie begins, you’ll surely be primed for what has, so far, promised to be a fun ride… then the mediocrity begins.

While the heist at the center of the film’s plot might be fictional, a crime was definitely committed in the making of The Vault. The film’s wonderful cast, comprised of names like James Franco and Tayrn Manning, is absolutely crippled by poor direction and limp, uninspired dialogue. When you have nothing more to offer a seasoned cast like this than vast amounts of unnecessary cursing, you know you’re in trouble from the start. When the insipid lines these poor beleaguered souls are being tasked to try to deliver convincingly are contained within a confusing, yet boring plot, there’s almost no coming back. Throw in a dash of bad editing, a splash of meandering exposition, and a generous helping of ridiculous plot twists; and by the time you push away from this table, you’ll surely feel like heading for the nearest toilet and upending the entire meal. Then maybe watch a better movie to cleanse the palate.

The biggest shame, however, might be that this could have been a really good film. There are bright spots to be found. As has already been mentioned, the cast is great; and they do their level best to give the best performances they can with what they were given. The cinematography is stark and affecting and brings a slickness to the proceedings akin to other heist movies such as Heat and Swordfish. The plot, in the hands of a better writer and director, could have been something special as well, but writer/director Dan Bush apparently wasn’t up to the task of telling the complex story he conceived and ended up leaning heavily on tropes from both genres instead of innovating and creating something brand new.

In conclusion you should probably skip The Vault. It never delivers the unique experience it promises, and you won’t even know how badly you’ve been lied to until you’re already committed. The only heist this film commits is stealing valuable time, so make sure to spend yours wisely by avoiding it completely.


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Erik McHatton

Horror fan since childhood. Also, a stay at home Dad, layabout and general rapscallion. Purveyor of all things diabolical, devious and dire as well as loquacious lover of ludicrous alliteration and bold balladeer of bellicose buffoonery. Master of the run-on sentence.

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