Director: Dan Bush
Cast: James Franco, Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood
Watch The Vault online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Amazon Instant Video / Rakuten TV / Google Play
A bank job goes scarily wrong in this low-budget thriller, which combines the the two classic genres of heist and horror. That’s about the most ingenious thing about The Vault, which treads the line of mediocrity with an unfortunate persistence.
It begins well enough, with an efficiently mounted raid on an unsuspecting bank. Francesca Eastwood plays Leah, who pretends to be applying for a job as a teller, getting into the back office with the senior figure on the premises and politely stalling for time. Taryn Manning plays Vee, her sister, who storms through the front door in a foul mood, and only becomes more reckless. All the while, sirens play out in the background, building up the ominous atmosphere, until the fire brigade end up entering the premises and locking the doors. The twist? The rest of the robbers are the fire brigade.
It’s the first of several reveals, as the movie proves unafraid to cash its M Night Shyamalan cheque over and over again. The heist segues into a siege, which slides into a slasher, delivering on the promise of nasty violence in the grisly opening credits – accompanied, neatly, by eerie 80s ditty Crimson And Clover, which slowly spills out into the rest of the movie.
It’s a shame, then, that the slick presentation is let down by a run-on-the-mill script: despite packing in a hefty quantity of twists in the film’s 100-minute runtime, the pacing is frustratingly slow, with Bush and co-writer Conal Byrne taking half an hour to get to the titular vault and another 30 minutes to uncover the mystery behind the phone call tipping off the police.
There’s some gory intrigue in the way director Dan Bush cuts between the dingy corridors leading to the old, underground vault and CCTV footage that seems to show something entirely different – and when the masks come out, the killing is suitably grim. Eastwood and Manning, meanwhile, do well as the desperate siblings, with Manning (Pennsatucky from Orange Is the New Black) enjoying the chance to cut loose on a bigger scale, and Clifton Collins Jr. providing solid support as a weary detective.
But deliberate attempts to splice in James Franco as a long-time bank employee – whose calm, moustached presence couldn’t feel more out of place in the modern, cut-throat scenes – only add to the disjointed feel of a project that isn’t pulling off the daring feat it thinks it is. By the time those fragmented halves of the story gel together, you’ll mostly be disappointed by the lack of ambition to do something more interesting, or less predictable. The Vault has potential waiting to break out, but the loot sadly never materialises.
The Vault is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription.
Where can I watch The Vault on pay-per-view VOD?