The Vault (2017)
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Critic Reviews for The Vault
There's a reasonable premise to this horror-thriller, but also something straight-to-rental about the look and feel of the whole thing.
The heist bit is quite smartly handled, with James Franco rocking a natty moustache-and-mullet combo as a bank employee and Taryn Manning... impressively obstreperous as one of the robbers. The horror part, however, is dreadfully underpowered.
Just doesn't stand up against the stack of intelligent indie horror films being released today.
Ultimately, The Vault isn't silly enough to be horrendously memorable or tense enough to be effective as the genre exercise it could have been. It falls into that underdeveloped gap in the middle.
"The Vault" is a combination heist and horror picture; and it's the rare genre mash-up where each element's equally strong.
Audience Reviews for The Vault
So, let me get this straight, James Franco got a paycheck to do this movie when all he was gonna do is give an uninspired performance where he spends most of his time tied up to a heater looking suspiciously as the events in the vault play out before him? Must be good to be a movie star. And I like Franco, but there's no reason he's here other than to have say that this movie has a major movie star, which makes it easier to score distribution since you can promote the thing around the guy. I like Taryn Manning, but she's obviously not as widely known as Franco is. It was either that or Franco decided to do one of his buddies a solid by appearing in his movie. I suppose that's not really relevant, but it is worth pointing out. This is the movie that didn't wanna watch itself. I mentioned what happened a few days ago, which prohibited from making it past 80 seconds of this movie, but when I started watching this yesterday, I had some small issues I had to deal with and I was like 'fuck, not again'. But, thankfully, I was finally able to finish this movie. Was the wait worth it in the end? Let's find out shall we. Fuck it, I'm not that patient. No, the wait was not fucking worth it. Not in the slightest. Let's see, conceptually speaking, I like this movie, it's a bank heist turned horror movie. Simple, right? I mean, the whole mixing of genres, at least in this movie, feels a little forced and contrived. It's as if they wanted something that would make them stand out in a crowded independent horror world, but they didn't really wanna put in the effort to make sure the execution of that concept was actually strong. Because it's not just that this wants to be both a bank heist and horror movie, it's also the fact that it tries to be a family drama looking at the dynamic of these three siblings as everything starts to go to shit. This is all fine and dandy and, again, if your scripting is strong enough, then you can make it work. But the fact of the matter is that each genre the film dabbles in ends up sabotaging the others. It's like you're watching three different movies at once and none of them are any good whatsoever. The family drama is frustrating as shit, because Leah, Vee and Michael probably have a past that's actually worth exploring, but they talk in generalizations. They don't do go in-depth enough for you to get a sense of what's actually driven these three siblings to this point. You know that Michael got into a bit of a mess with some people that he now owes money to. Leah and Vee, who both feel responsible for Michael, agree to this heist in order to help him get out of this situation. But that's all they do. They don't give you any more to work with. They say that Leah, once this is all over, will just up and leave, like she always does. But, again, it's frustrating because they just don't bother to give you any more. And there's this constant theme of 'Michael's a good man, you're a decent person, I know you're not bad, why are you doing this' that feels like they wanted this to substitute actual character development. It's not that Michael is a terrible character, it's just that he's a walking contradiction. He's stupid enough to get himself in this situation, but he's kind of enough to not want anyone IN the hostage situation to get hurt. It's not like these are two elements that are always going to contradict each other, since conflicted characters ARE possible to do, it's just that the way in which they go about it is haphazard. And there's large chunks of the movie where Michael just disappears. So how can I buy into the idea that Vee and Leah would do whatever they could for their little brother (I'm assuming) when he's gone for, at least, 40% of the film. And when he is there, again, the movie hints at their past, they refuse to tell you much, so it's impossible to invest in these three as actual characters when the movie just refuses to tell you anything about them. Having said all of that, I found Leah, whom you could argue is the protagonist, since out of the three siblings she is featured the most, to be an absolutely insufferable character. Just absolutely fucking insufferable. I think the idea that they had was that Leah would sort of be someone you rally around, seeing as how she was forced into this situation out of love for her brother. But, nope, it doesn't work that way. I just found her to be a poorly-written and utterly unlikable character. The fact that they even ATTEMPT to make her likable is idiocy. Some of her actions in the film are the actions of someone you do not want to like. Like the whole scene with Susan where Leah breaks a lamp's light bulb and threatens to electrocute her with it. She says she'd be lying if she didn't say it wasn't gonna hurt and that she wasn't gonna enjoy it. Perhaps it was done to psyche out Susan, but it didn't really seem that way to me. How is this meant to be a person we're supposed to root for? I say they try to make her 'likable' because one scene sees her explaining, to Franco's character, that she's as much of a hostage as they are. Wait a fucking second, wait one goddamn fucking second, you didn't have to agree to do this heist AT ALL. I understand standing by your family, but you could also say 'sorry, little brother, you got yourself into this mess and it's time you get yourself out of it'. Nobody FORCED your hand at all, you made the decision to go along, so you're not a fucking hostage. That's just the shit I'm talking about, like why would they even attempt to make Leah a 'heroine' when she's just a terrible human being. Just awful scripting and character development. Also the whole bit with Franco's character felt a tad uninspired. It's really very easy to figure out that Franco's character was ***SPOILERS***, in fact, was one of the original victims of the hostage in 1982, the spirits of which are haunting the vault where the real money is in. Perhaps it would have been easy to figure out even if the film had been well-scripted, but it's just so predictable that it doesn't really add anything to the film when you're already expecting it. In fact, and they changed it now, but the film's 'poster' on Netflix gave the twist away. Yes, really. Talk about stupid, though that's not this film's fault. Let's see, what else am I missing? Oh, the horror. Well, it's not that it's bad, it's just that it's no good. It's not really effective in the slightest, but it's one the things the film does best. I like the concept of the victims of the original hostage haunting the old bank, but why in the fuck are they in cahoots with the person who murdered them? It makes no fucking sense whatsoever. If you're going to enjoy this movie, and why the fuck would you, you should just not even bother trying to think about anything that's going on. Just watch the movie as if you were brain dead and that's the only way you'd be able to get anything out of this. Perhaps that's a little harsh, but it's just not a good movie. I wouldn't say it's the worst movie I've ever seen, but its mismanagement of disparate genres, its poor character development and its insufferable characters make this a difficult movie to recommend. There's very little here in the way of redeeming qualities, but, again, it's not an awful movie, just a very bad one. PS: And, as I understand it, this is my 3000th review/rating on RottenTomatoes. It seems I have THE worst fucking luck picking quality movies for "anniversary" reviews. Unacceptable. I can only promise to try better next time, but you can never predict what's gonna happen.
I love the idea of these flip-the-script horrors, the kind that play on some variation of the "The Hunter Becomes The Hunted" trope. Unfortunately, The Vault is not a prime example of this concept when we're speaking in terms of quality. It's cheap, which is not inherently a problem, but it certainly doesn't help when you run into the real barriers like acting, visual effects, audio quality, costuming and set design. But it's still probably watchable enough that I'm going to chuck it onto my Payday playlist.
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