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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Vault movie review: where the money is haunted

The Vault red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Psychologically risible and paranormally inconsistent heist horror gives us not a single character to like or root for, or even to cheer dying.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

The worst criminal gang ever — unprofessional, unprepared, and rife with in-fighting — is robbing a bank. A bank that turns out to be haunted. Which they might have learned if they’d bothered to do the slightest bit of research, because it’s pretty much all anyone at the bank will talk about given the tiniest provocation. Whatever entertaining possibilities that heisting a ghoul-infested bank vault might offer are entirely overlooked by writer (with Conal Byrne) and director Dan Bush (The Reconstruction of William Zero), who employs the minimal level of imagination requiredtweet to shuffle his unappealing characters through 90 minutes of shouting at one another and then dying, often in ways that are completely unexplained and kinda don’t even make sense. The customers and employees caught up in the robbery and ensuing hostage situation are remarkably bland and undifferentiated, including James Franco’s (Alien: Covenant) bank manager and Q’orianka Kilcher’s head teller, but it’s the thieves who are truly shocking in both their watery nothingness as protagonist-villains and the awfulness of the performances behind them: Taryn Manning (Experimenter) and Francesca Eastwood (True Crime) as the sisters heading up the gang are completely incapable of exuding either the brains or the brawn the script asks of them, and derisive laughter is the only possible response when Eastwood tries to convince a hostage that she, too, is a victim here. And the film isn’t just psychologically risible but paranormally inconsistent, unable to commit to a set of supernatural rules for its spooks to follow.tweet With not a single character to like or root for, nor even ones to cheer dying,tweet and not much in the way of scares, what’s the point? To warn us not to rob haunted banks? Er, okay: got it.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2017’s other releases.

red light 1 star

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The Vault (2017) | directed by Dan Bush
US/Can release: Sep 01 2017 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Sep 08 2017 (VOD same day)

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 15 (strong horror, language, violence, gore)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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