The Dillon sisters, Leah (Francesca Eastwood) and ex-con Vee (Taryn Manning), stage a bank robbery to help their troubled brother Michael (Scott Haze) get enough money to pay off the gangsters threatening to kill him. Their plan is to hit the place fast and be gone before the local authorities can react but things quickly get out of hand when the manager refuses to co-operate and they find the safe is too sophisticated to crack. The situation escalates when a female bank employee is badly injured trying to escape and the police surround the building.
However one of the employees, Ed Maas (James Franco), seems strangely calm and offers to help the robbers in return for 5% of their take. There is it seems another vault in the basement, much older and easier to break into which he insists contains six million dollars and another way out. The Dillons are so desperate they don’t notice Ed seems a little too keen for them to open the vault.
Dan Bush co-directed The Signal (2007), an intriguing little horror about society collapsing through a message sent through television screens which turned the viewer into a raging psychotic. There’s a similar theme here of people turning into savages here though this is a much more conventional film, a mixture of heist movie and supernatural horror which doesn’t really move far beyond genre tropes. It’s atmospheric enough in the early sequences with Franco’s quiet stillness a counterpoint to all the aggression going on around him but once access is gained to the vault what lies within proves to be something of a let down.
Bush’s direction in his segment of The Signal is spare and haunting but the goriness present in The Vault recalls the worst excesses of the torture porn era diminishing his good work in the opening first act. The earlier film was violent but at least had something to say about contemporary life. The Vault is efficient and the final revelatory sequence does send a chill down the spine before The Vault reverts to the familiar with one of the most overly used horror movie endings.
What is clear from The Vault though is that Hollywood studio bosses who are trying to promote Scott Eastwood as a movie star are backing the wrong sibling because with her charismatic turn here and her equally fierce performances on television in Fargo and the Twin Peaks finale it’s clear Francesca Eastwood is the one to watch.
A Dan Bush Film
In Cinemas & On Demand on September the 8th