The Vault (2017) starts as a cliche heist flick but quickly (and thankfully) turns into an enjoyable yet weird haunted house spooker that has me and the cast saying “this doesn’t make sense.”
Two sisters (Francesca Eastwood and Taryn Manning) put together a small crew to pull off a bank heist in order to pay off a debt their brother (Scott Haze) owes to the kind of people who chop off fingers. To the robbers dismay, there’s only $7,0000 in cash on hand and apparently that’s not enough. So they begin to abuse hostages in hopes that they’ll cough up the location of more loot. The assistant manager (James Franco) speaks up at this point and says he can help them get inside the downstairs vault if they promise to keep the hostages safe from further harm. They agree because there’s $6 million in cash down there and the cops, led by a drunk detective (Clifton Collins Jr), are assembling on the bank steps. Things get head-scratchingly spooky from here on.
Strange happenings begin throughout the building; lights flicker, phone calls are made by people who aren’t there, odd faces and voices begin to materialize out of nowhere. As a bank employee (Q’orianka Kilcher) recounts the tale of the horrible heist gone wrong back in 1982, more ghoulies come out to socialize and knock off bad guys. Leaving just the three siblings to grab the cash and dash out after they torch the place.
Not so fast though, “no one is safe” (that’s the movie’s tagline and I get it now) as the sibs are followed and dealt with by a mysterious phantom in a plain white mask. Reminds me of the opera guy but in a bank and not disfigured just a crazy specter.
Once all the madness is over and the robbers are one step beyond the law, we learn through camera footage that there was no one else in the building besides them. From the bank employees, we find out that they’ve never heard of this assistant manager before either. Was he a friendly ghost from 1982? Were the baddies simply scared silly and driven nutsy by their conscience? Was it that face in that house of fun that really got them? (It’s really not that hard to figure out but it was fun using Madness songs in a paragraph.)
A few times throughout the movie, while other worldly things are happening, characters exclaim “this doesn’t make any sense.” I agreed and said the very same thing as plot holes, improbabilities, and so many questions began to mount, like why are the ghosts locked in the vault? Who is that masked man and why is he after the current robbers? Does he use silver bullets? It’s here that I gave in, grabbed my Hatbox Ghost bottle opener, and popped the top off a VooDoo Ranger IPA. I let critical (over) thinking go and enjoyed the rest of this loony 91-minute-long ride.
The Vault grew on me more as I watched then rewatched and caught and confirmed some early clues. Even the opening heist setup with its cliches become more tolerable, although I still don’t give a hoot about the family trouble those siblings hinted at having or the cut-and-paste edgy black sheep, sister character (who wore thin fast). It’s the ghosts and the “makes no sense” aspect that drew me in and actually works well here. I think writer/director Dan Bush’s aim was to play with our heads a bit, causing as much confusion in the watcher’s mind as there is on the screen. It’s really too bad that the Blu-ray contains no extras features; I’d love to know what the director and cast thought of it all.
Franco, Eastwood, and crew turn in fine performances, making the most of this different horror, heist film. Perhaps one day there will be a Blu-ray release with some extras that could provide insight as to what was going on in the minds of all involved. Until then sit back, embrace the suspension of disbelief and enjoy the weird, ghostly madness that The Vault is encased in.