Single-location genre films are often the most effective when it comes to drawing in an audience. The likes of Reservoir Dogs and the original version of Assault On Precinct 13 are two classic examples of keeping the narrative tight and focused on character, whilst hopefully ensuring the audience are drawn into the story and twists that prevail.
Described by Director Dan Bush as ‘The Town meets The Shining’, the brand-new horror/heist thriller The Vault is another self-contained example of what can be done. Starring another of Clint Eastwood’s daughters, Francesca, whom he had whilst involved with Unforgiven actress Frances Fisher, it is the tale of three siblings, Leah (Eastwood), Vee (Taryn Manning) and Michael (Scott Haze), who mount an elaborate bank robbery in a desperate attempt to solve a gangster-related problem perpetrated by Michael, who will die if money is not paid up.
Inevitably, problems occur with the staff who don’t play ball, except for one assistant manager, Ed Maas (James Franco) who reveals that the money they are after is in a vault in the basement of the bank and helps them by overriding security systems to enable the job to be completed and the basement vault to be opened. However, all have reckoned without the dark secrets that await inside, as well as the prospect of dealing with the FBI who have gathered outside to try and stop the robbers from escaping….
Along with the other examples it echoes, The Vault would happily fit in with John Carpenter’s The Fog (Shaun Drew’s music is very Carpenter-esque synthesiser), as well as being the sort of movie the legendary maestro could have done if he was willing today.
Bush certainly shows a lot of potential with this film and it is tautly-edited with an effective set-up of the heist in progress. Both Eastwood and Manning are solid in the lead roles and horror fans can certainly take heart from a tale that does try and subvert those expectations we have whenever we come to any new horror yarn, even if in the grand scheme of things it does come across as a little bit predictable
If there is perhaps one major criticism with the film, it has to be a need to echo past glories and classics. The reason why films like The Shining do endure is they were conceived without any set agenda in their creation. Kubrick worked with Diane Johnson for a substantial period of time developing their vision of the King novel, which ended up radically different from what was published. This was a common factor in adapting King’s work. Some of the novels work better in book form than they do onscreen, with the exception of Carrie and Salem’s Lot, which confirmed the skill and talents of Brian De Palma and Tobe Hooper.
This writer is hopeful, though, that this new generation of horror directors will show some imaginative creativity and provide horror fans some more ingenious work to fawn over in the coming years. Bush has the opportunity to become one of those filmmakers.
THE VAULT / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DAN BUSH / SCREENPLAY: DAN BUSH, CONAL BYRNE / STARRING: FRANCESCA EASTWOOD, JAMES FRANCO, TARYN MANNING, SCOTT HAZE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW