I was actually starting to really get into the idea of spending a month reviewing exclusively films from Full Moon Entertainment, then The Vault came down like a hammer smashing that cozy idea. I don’t know why I was expecting more out of The Vault than what got delivered. It’s not that I set my standards all the high, I think the issue is that the Vault is a genuine bad movie. Possibly the worst I’ve seen to date and that’s including Bitten. At least I can say with Bitten that it was at least able to keep me engaged enough that I didn’t fall asleep, forcing me to re-watch it later to properly review it (I nearly fell asleep during the second viewing as well). Which is something that The Vault did do.
The Vault opens with a teenage hooligan breaking into a derelict high school to vandalize it a month before the bulldozers show up to tear it down. He’s found and warned by a security guard (Leopoldo Mandeville) to leave. Which of course he doesn’t, but instead finds his way to the basement. Where he finds a door poorly hidden behind some very fake looking walling. The door starts to shake, the guard appears again, warns again, the hooligan comes to the conclusion someone is trapped inside and he’s going to save them. But the security guard stops that plan right quick by bludgeoning the hooligan to death. The Vault then leaps ahead a couple of weeks to high school teacher Mr. B (Ted Lyde) taking out a group of misfits to look for anything related to the abandoned school’s history that can be salvaged before it’s demolished in a couple of weeks. This group of youths are cardboard cutouts in the worst sense, Desaray (Shani Pride) the hot one, Zachary “Zipper” (Kyle Walker) the nerd, Willy (Austin Priester) the jock and Kyle (Micheal Cory Davis) the tough guy. Also in tow is the bus driver (James Black), who chooses to not go inside the creepy abandoned school and stay with the bus. Which in the end doesn’t work out for him as he becomes the fist of the ghosts victims, which creates a couple of plot holes. The Vault spends its sweet time meandering around and trying to pass off exposition dumps as character development before Desarey and Willie open up the titular Vault and releasing an evil spirit. The spirit then goes about killing the students now trapped inside the school (for some reason the ghost can’t leave the school unless it’s to kill bus drivers I guess). As the students numbers begin to dwindle, Mr. B encounters the security guard and recognizes him as the janitor from when he went to school there… and he hasn’t aged a day! Turns out he’s a ghost, well a collection of ghosts, who are working to ensure the spirit in the vault (belonging to a Shaman that killed them to escape or something) stays trapped. Oops. The school also has a history centered around the building being used for the slave trade… in LA. As the ghost keeps claiming victims can those surviving stop him before they become his next victim?
I could harp on the acting, which is awful. I could also harp on the bad effects, like why do film makers think tinting something blue makes it night or dark? I could even harp about the shoddy characters. But no, these are thing I expect from Full Moon.
What I do want to gripe about is just how bad this film is as far as pacing goes. Little happens beyond the students wandering the halls and dropping large chunks of exposition in the first half of the movie. Which wouldn’t be bad if it picked up more in the latter half. Which I will admit that it does, mostly because the characters start dying and I can see that the film is almost over.
All of the deaths are crazy anti-climactic. To the point where I started to feel cheated. The effects were well done enough, but most of the deaths feel like they come out of nowhere and with no build up, the deaths all feel trivial.
Final thoughts, I cannot in good conscience recommend this film. I will hand off a bad film to a friend or a stranger on the internet no problem, as long as it still has some sort of redeeming quality. Which is the rub, as The Vault doesn’t have any. Ok, that’s a lie, because the music is pretty rocking. But I’m not here for the music, I’m here for the scares and The Vault doesn’t have any. 1/10