THE VAULT

OUT 8 septem­ber CERT 15 / 91 mins

Empire (UK) - - ON.SCREEN - Kim new­man

Di­rec­tor Dan Bush cast James Franco, Taryn Man­ning, Francesca East­wood, Scott Haze

plot Leah (East­wood) and Vee (Man­ning) try to help their brother Michael (Haze) out of debt by tak­ing part in a rob­bery. A heist turns into a siege and bank em­ployee Ed Maas (Franco) tells the gang the real money is in a seem­ingly dis­used, pos­si­bly haunted bank vault.

IT USED TO be a movie con­ven­tion that su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror films would trans­form into crime movies in the fi­nal reel. As in Scooby-doo,

Where Are You!, any ghosts, mon­sters or zom­bies would turn out to be gang­sters or smug­glers in dis­guise and all the spooky stuff writ­ten off as trick­ery. That sub-genre has faded, but its mir­ror im­age has been sur­pris­ingly busy since From

Dusk Till Dawn as crime movies turn into hor­ror films, with hard-boiled crooks and cops go­ing about their ev­ery­day busi­ness of bust­ing bad guys only to find that they’re up against some­thing su­per­nat­u­ral they didn’t pre­pare for.

The Vault is a well-made, well-writ­ten and well-acted vari­a­tion on this theme, but too timid to go all-out weird. The vault here is merely plagued by a masked ghost from an ear­lier heist rather than, say, the site where the Devil stores the souls he’s bar­gained for, or the Hell­mouth that crashed the global econ­omy.

The set-up is nicely han­dled, as a jit­tery gang — three squab­bling sib­lings try­ing to pay off the Mob, a pro­fes­sional safe­cracker and a hulk­ing psy­cho — ex­e­cute the be­gin­nings of a well-made plan. Sen­si­ble-look­ing Leah (East­wood, the daugh­ter of Frances Fisher and Clint East­wood) and ag­gres­sive Vee (Man­ning, from Orange Is The

New Black) get into the bank pos­ing as a smart job ap­pli­cant and an an­noy­ing cus­tomer, then the rest of the crooks show up in fake fire depart­ment uni­forms when di­ver­sion­ary bombs go off on the block. Some­one soon in­sists no­body is go­ing to get hurt, so you know there’ll be a body count — but the hostages may not be the ones most in dan­ger.

Match­ing the pat­tern of Dog Day Afternoon, the plan goes south. The au­thor­i­ties re­ceive a phone mes­sage about the rob­bery no­body in­side the bank could have made and a siege de­vel­ops, with De­tec­tive Iger (Clifton Collins Jr.) lurk­ing out­side try­ing to es­tab­lish a line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. There turns out to be lit­tle cash stored in the up­stairs safe, so help­ful whitecol­lar worker Ed (Franco, with a plot-rel­e­vant mous­tache) re­veals that a for­tune is stashed in the an­tique vault all the bank em­ploy­ees avoid. Soon, a masked psy­cho ghost is in the house, and the ca­su­al­ties start pil­ing up. Tommy James And The Shon­dells’ Crim­son And Clover plays eerily when­ever a ra­dio is turned on. And the bank se­cu­rity footage shows a dif­fer­ent re­al­ity to what’s hap­pen­ing.

Di­rec­tor Dan Bush, who co-wrote with Conal Byrne, was one of the col­lec­tive who made the 2007 out­break apoc­a­lypse pic­ture The

Sig­nal. This is a more straight-up genre piece, de­ploy­ing de­cent-enough sus­pense and shock mech­a­nisms while hardly push­ing the boat out. Its strong­est suit is the team­ing of cool East­wood and live-wire Man­ning as con­trast­ing crim­i­nal sis­ters, though they’re so in­ter­est­ingly un­pre­dictable the ghost killer some­times seems su­per­flu­ous.

Verdict though it could do with be­ing weirder and wilder, this high-con­cept mash-up — what if crooks robbed a haunted bank? — fea­tures fine work from a brace of ris­ing stars.

Michael My­ers, James Franco, mous­tache.

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