People love a good old fashioned haunted house story. From younger children to the oldest horror fans, an old spooky home filled with ghosts will pique almost everyone’s interest. Bank heist movies are another popular genre. From The Italian Job to the Ocean’s franchise, The Vault is a 2017 movie that combines both genres. The idea may sound great on the surface, but the story never really comes together as well as it should.
The Vault starts off as a typical bank heist movie. Like any good bank robbery movie, it starts off with an intricate and creative plan that works to perfection. As the robbers are trying to get away with their haul, hints are dropped that there is more to the bank than they initially thought. As the hints are fully revealed, the movie delves into straight up horror.
The movie never marries the two genres it is working with. Instead, it has the two living in the same house with some occasional interaction. The first act of the movie is about the bank robbery. After about the halfway point, lights literally go off and on signifying a change in direction. There are some vague comments and almost the entire movie is set in the bank, but otherwise, it is an odd change in direction.
This is felt through in every aspect of the film. The movie begins with a tense steady beat that is meant to ramp up the urgency of what is happening. The music gets louder during heavier action then slows to a steady beat during the actual robbery. When The Vault becomes a horror movie, there are screeching violins and over the top crashes for the jump scares. The lack of a smooth transition makes the entire soundtrack sound appropriate, but generic.
The combination of the two types of movies should lead to a story that is filled with tension. The beginning almost manages to build the anxiety. It is clear there is something going on and when a loan officer mentions rumors about the bank, it does make the audience a little interested. But, that is the extent of it. At times, there is a mild curiosity as to what is happening. Except it is not “I want to see where this going”, but a “What the hell are they talking about” type of interest.
While the heist scenes are very average, the horror parts are genuinely scary. Director Dan Bush does not do anything new. There are flashing lights, dark hallways, and the requisite jump scares. But it is not necessary to be groundbreaking if you are doing something well. The atmosphere that is missing during the rest of the movie is captured during the movie’s more frightening parts. It may not be pressure filled, but it is definitely scary.
The Vault has some surprisingly great gore effects. This is seen very early on during the initial robbery. The first moment almost seems out of place since it is so graphic. The kills in the movie may be the highlight. Much like the rest of the movie, none of them are especially unique, but they stand out in an otherwise bland film.
The film’s twist ending is very predictable. The moment the story is told about the bank’s past, the audience knows what is going to happen. While it does not play out exactly as some might expect, it is very unsurprising. Kudos to whoever made the DVD cover for making the movie’s big twist the primary picture on the back of the box, thus making it possible to know how the movie ends without watching it.
The Vault is an interesting idea. Taking a bank heist movie and turning it into a horror flick seems like a recipe for a lot of fun. Somehow, the movie never quite reaches the levels expected. It is all over the place and never able to find an engaging pace or tone. It is a neat premise that would have been better served as a straight up horror movie.