"Frankly, Franco couldn’t save this one"
We have all seen our fair share of heist movies. From Tarantino's classic (and somewhat unbeatable) ‘Reservoir Dogs’, to the modern rawness of Affleck’s ‘The Town’ the initial concept is common place - and let's face it we all know it can end one of two ways. Experimenting with genres is exciting; engaging and if achieved well can become the ultimate stepping stone for a filmmaker to truly push the boundaries within this tight knit industry. Although, when mixed together in a cocktail of crime, thriller and jump scares it seems indie flick, The Vault fails to impress.
Strategically hooking us in with James Franco plastered all over the marketing materials, independent horror director Dan Bush, likens his latest venture, The Vault to the nitty grittiness of ‘The Town’ with a smattering of the deadly terrifying ‘The Grudge’ throughout. At face value, this ticks some boxes, although one can’t help but think playing around with genres perhaps wasn’t the best tactic. We are introduced to two ruthless sisters, Vee and Leah who despite their differences have teamed up to help their brother, Michael with some money issues. Naturally, robbing a bank seems the most suitable solution for him to keep his life. Things seem to be going to plan until they find a disappointingly low amount of cash and panic consumes them. After a staff member spills the beans telling them exactly where to find a hefty amount of dosh, the narrative manifests into a paranormal ghost story that gradually knocks off cast members in a methodical order.
Fronting this heist come horror is the talented James Franco, who comfortably holds his own for all of the 20 minutes he is on screen - giving a slightly toned down, at times refreshingly so performance that is virtually at the other end of his more recent comical spectrum. Orange Is the New Black’s Taryn Manning as sister Vee brings her feisty Doggett to this new role which will have fans silently cheering in their seats, however it would have been nice to see her bring something a little different to our screens. The supporting cast serve their purpose, but let’s just say no one is going to get their next big break from their performances here.
Disappointingly so, The Vault fails to merge the classic heist narrative with frights and scares. In fact, this would have been much more engaging if the supernatural element was forgoed entirely with the first half providing tension and angst, whilst the latter falls into the realm of typical ghost story which quite frankly Supernatural and Buffy does a better job of. After the first spirit show’s its ghastly face, this instantly turns into a lengthy episode of Supernatural. In fact, there was an episode where a jewellery heist happened centring round some sort of inhuman being.
Don’t be fooled by Franco’s face everywhere. Horror fans, don’t be fooled by the fact this is a horror and whatever you do, don’t doubt yourself – you will figure out the twist rather quickly!