Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Vault (2017)

I like hybrid ghost stories. What do I mean by that? Well, a story in which the ghost is not the only thing going on. The ghost isn't just haunting away like mad, but has a 'metabolism', as the late Robert Westall put it. This means there has to be a story as to why the haunting has been triggered. The Vault, a hybrid heist horror movie, is a good example of this.

The film begins with sirens as emergency services race to a fire. The fire has been set as a distraction by a gang who take over the bank with brutal efficiency. They want money, of course - but it soon becomes apparent that they are not just a regular bunch of perps out for the cash. This is a family affair, in which two estranged sisters have teamed up to try and help their hapless brother, who is in debt to some Very Bad People.

This puts an interesting moral ambiguity into the mix, and The Vault could have worked quite well as a heist movie. But, as the title implies, there's something else down there. The staff don't like to go down to the old bank vault, a distinctly underlit area of the establishment. But when it becomes clear that the cash available at ground level won't cover the debt, the sisters have no choice but to change plans. Fortunately they have some cutting gear (a nice touch, as it's central to their escape plan). So it seems that they will get the dosh after all...

But no. The vault is haunted, thanks to the horrific events that took place at the bank decades earlier. The deputy manager of the bank (James Franco with an excellent old-school moustache) tries to keep things from spiralling out of control. But, one by one, the gang members are taken out by spooks. In that sense it's a very familiar horror flick. But it's just good enough to stand apart from the slew of supernatural mass-killing movies thanks to the script, direction, and performances. As well as Franco, Taryn Manning and Francesca Eastwood excel as the very different, very feisty crim sisters.