Bank Robbers Find Evil in “The Vault” review!


Leah and Vee, Two estranged sisters, their knee deep in debt brother, Michael, and a couple of money hungry hired hands take siege of an old bank to score a half a million dollar payday. With hostages bagged and tagged, security cameras disabled, and no outside communication to the police transmitted, the situation and plan seems to be going smoothly, but when the actual pay load is lighter than expected, desperation takes over and panic overwhelms when the prospect of load sharks will seek to take more than just fingers for payment. A more than helpful assistant bank manager is eager and willing to share information about how to obtain the 6 million dollars in an archaic vault beneath the upper levels just as long as nobody gets hurt, but the heist’s meddling into the basement’s vault stirs a malevolent evil force and their fates will be sealed inside an unsafe repository.

The 2007 “The Signal” director, Dan Bush, directs and co-writes 2017’s “The Vault,” a supernatural thriller co-written by “The Reconstruction of William Zero” scriber Conal Byrne. Tense and polished, “The Vault” has the makings of a velvety heist film that holds up formidably strong, setting up a hostage situation after a well-executed pilferage involving zesty characters with dire complexities that drive them to villainy. The opening credits provide glimpses into the duration along with associative theme, much along the same lines as Victor Salva’s “Jeepers Creepers” that scores the Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer’s jazzy “Jeepers Creepers” track from 1938 that inspired fear before the arrival of The Creeper. “The Vault” uses a song 30-years junior to “Jeepers Creepers” with Tommy James and the Shondells’s psychedelic pop track, “Crimson and Clover.”

The sisters could be exemplary examples of fire and ice; Vee’s hotheaded obstinacy and violent tendencies makes her a volatile wildcard whereas Leah’s calm, cool, and calculating measures maintain their heist from derailing into violent panic. Their estrangement boils from a tiff about Leah’s loyalty to her family as Vee burgeoningly bludgeons Leah and her their brother, Michael, that Leah will skate soon after their escape, leaving the family one-third complete yet again, but Leah being involved in this heist, coming to her brother’s aid from her possible story bred locale of South America, or wherever she might have been, has Michael questioning Vee’s steadfast position. “Orange is the New Black’s” Taryn Manning is a natural born roughneck on screen and Vee is no stretch from her Pennsatucky character on the Netflix hit comedy-drama. Manning opposites Clint Eastwood’s piercing round-eyed daughter, Francesca Eastwood, whose a complete badass in her own rite. The two actresses might be short in stature, but Manning and Eastwood effectively symbolize large personalities in “The Vault” to the point where no other character can come close to competing with them, not even James Franco as an assistant bank manager with an all-too-happy to help personality. Franco, who sports a sweet stash and wavy dark hair, provides a steeliness shroud around his character, whose credited as Ed Mass in the credits, but never specially mentioned by name. Mass is a pivotal character to the story and, if analyzed thoroughly, can be unsurprisingly figured out with relative ease, but the who, what, and why are vital questions that go unfortunately unanswered. Scott Haze rounds out the four main roles with Michael, the gentle brother to Vee and Leah whose deep in debt with collectors who have already diced off one of his fingers. Haze, who has worked alongside “127 Hours’” star in a number of films such as “The Institute,” “Future World,” and “In Dubious Battle” to name a few, doesn’t have much interaction with Franco, but is more a satellite in his own regard becoming the protector of his two more than capable sisters. Supporting cast includes Q’orianka Kilcher as lead teller, “Day of the Dead: Bloodline’s” Jeff Gum as bank officer, the late Keith Loneker as a shotgun toting cohort, Michael Milford as the safe cracker, and “Traffic’s” Clifton Collins Jr. as the shady detective Iger.

Initially, Dan Bush played his cards right setting up the pre-heist all the way through the locking down the bank and all bank employees and customers are bound and gagged. Conal Byrne’s characters spill enough backstory to water our mouths, eager to know more about the angst between the two sisters, the lopped off finger of their brother Michael, and how the turmoil between the robbers is spurred and transitioned to resolution with the introduction of the helpful assistant bank manager and his helpful information about more money in a dank, dark basement vault. At this point, the salivation is intense when only tidbits of bank’s frightening phantasms are given that place the ball on the tee, stomach high, ready to knock the living daylights out our hapless and woebegone thieves, but the surefire, can’t miss swing tops the ball that scuttles in and out of bounds. The second and third acts are a completely clunky with abrupt and disjointed storytelling involving a copout exposition on the bank’s wretched backstory that ultimately leaves that important Ed Mass character hanging out in the pointless wind. Near the tail end, the film just didn’t feel complete, bordering dangerously in choppy filmmaking waters without a woolly and unexplored antagonist at the helm and Bush can’t quite pull all the end strings together to tightly knit a harrowing climax, vacating character substance with disingenuous plot twists.

MVDVisual and FilmRise introduce “The Vault” for the first time on a full HD Blu-ray home video. The widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, presentation is a great digital asset that favors a night and day conception. Ground level on the bank is pure daylight or exact lighting that vibrant and clear, not a lot of noise, and no observation of aliasing. In the basement, the abyss like somber darkness doesn’t fade away any details, but in all fairness, the haunting figures in the dark are nearly saturated with creeping ill-lit blackness. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 and stereo 2.0 audio tracks evenly set the dialogue and ambient tracks with diverse depth, but with the 5.1 surround sound and basement dwelling apparitions that indirectly cause explosions, the range didn’t embark through the varying to and fro levels appropriately and, thus, impresses a lackluster lasting impact. FilmRise has been quite a bust for bonus content lately and “The Vault” is no different with only the theatrical trailer attached. “The Vault” has sturdy initial framework of agitated vehement characters and a clouded venomous basement, teasing the prospect of two powerful rams running to tangle horns, but, without warning, the narrative unfairly falls to pieces as if one of the male sheep decided to swerve last minute before the game of chicken came to a crash and morbid curiosity becomes sorely deprived of cinematic lethal misgivings.

Buy “The Vault” on Amazon.com

Colleen and Colleen Versus the Evil Bratzis! “Yoga Hosers” review!


Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie are best friends. They’re also two superficial 15-year-old girls who are nose deep into their social media campaigning cell phones, jamming in their girl punk band Glamthrax, and living by the unorthodox, yet namaste driven, yoga practices while exasperatingly working at one of girl’s father’s convenient stores called “Eh-2-Zed.” Set in the Great White North of Canada, the Winnipeg, Manitoba sophomores are surprisingly invited to a senior party, a lure by a popular, good-looking senior boy who has a darker, Satanic side to him. The Colleen girls’ run in with a murderous devil worshipping senior inadvertently opens another hidden danger lurking 37 feet beneath their “Eh-2-Zed” soles. A slumbering Nazi mad scientists has been awoken and aims to finish his Third Reich master plan to take over Canada with a cloned army of Bratzis, living Bratwurst sausages who are pint-sizes Nazis, and seeks to unleash evil upon the Manitoba Earth.

Kevin Smith’s latest pop-cultural flick, a comedy-horror feature, entitled “Yoga Hosers” is the second installment, following 2014’s film “Tusk”, in Smith’s horror-inspired trilogy known as The True North Trilogy. Did you noticed I labeled “Yoga Hosers” as a comedy-horror instead of a horror-comedy? The “Mallrats” and “Clerks” director basks more in the familiarity of witty, profane humor in this second of three films, but Kevin Smith has known to dapple, gradually stepping over to the dark side into horror with his radical religious sect piece “Red State” and, like aforementioned, the body-horror “Tusk.” The Jersey native also has an occasional appearance on AMC’s “The Talking Dead,” a talk show about “The Walking Dead’s” post-premier of each episode, and has meddled in the realm of the fantastic. Not only is Smith a strong advocate and sincerely passionate comic book enthusiast, coinciding with his own AMC show “The Comic Book Men,” but “Dogma,” starring the late Alan Rickman, delivers divine revelations and, now, with “Yoga Hosers,” a villainous Nazi clones miniature Bratwurst soldiers. Smith holds, in my opinion, one of the most extremely diverse bodies of work in our lifetime.

Where as “Tusk” goes gritty and gory with R rated horror-comedy, Smith’s intentions for “Yoga Hosers” has always leaned toward that of PG-13 and, maybe, that’s due in part of the two films’ minoring connection. The connection, presumably set in the same whacked out alternate universe, stem from the two Colleens, one played by Smith’s hysterically funny daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, and the other being Harley’s longtime, kindergarden friend Lily-Rose Depp. Yes, the daughter of mega star Johnny Depp and French singer Vanessa Paradis brings her inherited talent and French dialect to one-half of a buddy comedy. The 15-year old girls, who are also 15-year old in character, transfer their natural offscreen relationship into being an entitled millennial pair with every intent on neglecting responsibility until faced with the moment of truth. Teamed up well with Lily-Rose’s father, Johnny Depp, under the heavy makeup of a fictional French manhunter named Guy Lapointe, also from “Tusk,” with scene-to-scene rotating facial mole, the crime fighting, buddy trio awkwardly moves across the plain in an enjoyable double entendre performance of simple wit. Accompanying Depp, Smith, and Depp are an eclectic roster of Kevin Smith’s usuals such as Justin Long (“Tusk,” “Jeepers Creepers”) as a reality-severed Yoga instructor named Yogi Bayer, Jason Mewes (“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”) in a bit part, and, of course, Kevin Smith himself as the devilish Bratzis. New faces also make the scene with an unrecognizable Haley Joel Osment (“Sixth Sense”) as a young Canadian Nazi and “Orange is the New Black” Natasha Lyonne portraying a slutty Eh-2-Zed manager who sleeps her way to the top with Colleen C’s father, “Veep’s” Tony Hale.

“Yoga Hosers” explodes with Canadian farce that’s laced heavily with jokes on ‘aboots,’ hockey jersey-wearing patrons, an alternate version of Lucky Charms called Pucky Charms, and many more stereotypical references that satirically poke a good humored finger at Canadian culture and pop-culture. To top this satire sundae, the smug Colleens define the very title of the film with their dimwitted sludge and white girl yoga written into every storyboard moment. “Yoga Hosers'” buddy film concept gives an opportunity to two young and clueless teen girls who genre pirate the story with a jalopy of unsystematic plot humor, sucking away and discarding like garbage the sole ounce of blended “Gremlins” and “Puppet Master” cavalier subgenre horror that’s comfortably pleasant and inarguable right for a fun film of this triviality. Though I think the Colleens’ have had their story told, I’m intrigued to see what the pair of aloof teens offer in Smith’s third film of the trilogy, “Moose Jaws.”

MVDVisual distributes a dual format Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD release of the various production companies’, including main investor, Invincible Pictures, and Kevin Smith’s founded SModcast Pictures, “Yoga Hosers.” The Blu-ray disc is a MPEG-2 encoded 1080p transfer with a 2.38:1 presentation and, rarely, flutters under a mediocre bitrate. Image brightens with a glossy coating that revels in brighter hues of blue, pink, orange, and yellow while starker bolds such as red and purple pop with vividness. Yet, sharp details are thin, less defined to bring high definition to present technological age. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track slightly elevates the ambient noise, especially during the girls’ punk rock practice that muffles out portions of their vocals, yet still manages to vary and balance. The only bonus feature available is a behind-the-scenes featurette that includes some insightful interviews. “Yoga Hosers” oppresses a melancholy reminder that the old Kevin Smith is no more and dawns a Kevin Smith 2.0 who transforms his satirical trademarks and his witty banter into strange misadventures, involving, in this case, two teenage fools flighting from one sub-narrative to another in a mixed bag of comedy and inferior minion horror.

Buy “Yoga Hosers” on Bluray/DVD/Digital HD at Amazon!

Evil Dwelling: Horror Icons of the 21st Century?

After watching The Collector, I started to think about how potential horror icons of the 21st century seem to shrivel up, fizzle, and dissolve away into nothing halting a potentially worthy horror franchise into spit – yeah, spit. The franchise runners – Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th, Michael Myers of Halloween, Freddy Kruger of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Leatherface of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Chucky of Child’s Play, Pinhead of Hellraiser – are good examples of horror icons and their franchise titles; yet the trend has seem to fade away, perhaps we are seeing the last of franchise horror icon and their time as reigning champs is on the way out. I like to think that this lack of a long hauling series is giving an opportunity for new blood, but the majority of horror movies the past decade don’t have the staying power nor do they have enough support to have a sequel every other year. I’d like to share with you my thoughts on current horror franchise icons and some possible contenders for the future.

Ghostface

I like my knife.

Who is probably the face of franchise horror of the 2000s, Ghostface became a household horror name, easily becoming an icon without really trying. The simple use of black and white and an abstract of Edvard Munch’s portrait woven with the mind of Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson catapulted the franchise from the 1996 all the way to 2011. The icon has made it’s mark in the Halloween costume market, memorabilia shelves and was even homaged in an unofficial video game that pitted horror icon versus horror icon called Terrordome. The Ghostface killer can be anybody, can out swift anybody and can rise from the grave over and over again (much like his icon predecessors). However, Ghostface stays human and never has been backed by evil powers to contribute to his killing spree success (much unlike his icon predecessors).

Jigsaw

Every channel has Jigsaw – gosh!

Where Ghostface became the face of an horror icon of the millennium. Jigsaw most certainly was the presence that absorbed the rest of the icon persona of the 2000s. Ghostface had the healthy braun, Jigsaw had the killer mental capacity. The ailing killer engineer masterfully justified his kills by righting wrong by committing extreme self-judgments. Even after death, Jigsaw had a lasting impression upon his followers who carried out his deeds for him. For seven consecutive Halloweens, Jigsaw has made an appearance on the big screen. While most fans have probably had enough of Jigsaw for at least another seven years, there are some die hard Saw fans itching for more traps, more blood and more Jigsaw and his creepy doll.

Victor Crowley

A face only a mother can love.

Louisiana back-woods, swamp thing Victor Crowley is a deformed tortured soul that will never sleep until every single person who trespasses is ripped to bloody shreds with his bare hands or, of course, hatchet. Crowley came on the scene in 2006. Adam Green brought the slasher back. Green gave Crowley a tragic backstory much like Jason Voorhees. A boy who is teased to the point of his almost death only to rise again to embark on a murder crusade. Victor Crowley initial success might be his downfall. Much like how Wes Craven played out the Scream with sequel two (it was okay) and sequel three (damn near stank), Hatchet II was garbage in comparison. One could only hope Green took a step back and reviewed Crowley’s flaws to bounce the deranged maniac back to spilling more blood than ever.

The Creeper

Be a part of me!

Never have I really cared for Victor Silva, but his creation, The Creeper, has to be one of, if not the, best horror character icons ever. With intelligence, attitude and a knack for resurrection, The Creeper has it all. Two films are under this potential franchiser’s belt with a possible third movie continuously being hinted at and unlike perhaps Hatchet, the fans want the winged creature back and possible this year…so sources say. Lets all hope that The Creeper will piece himself back together, from the body parts of his future victims, and return to more rural terror!

The Collector

You'd like nice in my Collection!

You’d like nice in my Collection!

The Collector had sparked this whole notion about more modern horror icons. With The Collection release, I’m anxious to see what kind of hobbies The Collector has in store. At first, I’ve brushed The Collector dismissing it as another run of the mill slasher flick. That is not the kind of horror blogger I strive to be, but one can get discouraged by most of the junk horror that surrounds us. I’m glad I have Jayson Kennedy in my life (or at least as a friend on my Facebook). I trust Jayson’s word so much that on his positive views of The Collector, I could not wait to get my hands on this interesting character. Marcus Dunstan’s and Patrick Melton’s icon has a bright future. Don’t get him mixed up with Jigsaw as The Collector is more of a perverse character whereas Jigsaw was a teacher of sorts. This is what makes The Collector an even more mysterious character.

Chromeskull

Slice and dice with a smile.

Laid to Rest was a sleeper. Loved the viciousness and the tenacity in brutally murdering people and using a camera to relive the experience over and over. Must like Adam Green, Chromeskull is the one trick pony of Robert Hall which could hinder Chromeskull’s career as a franchise killer! If there was ever another sequel, the story and the effects would really have to blow us, and the critics, out of the water if Chromeskulll wishes to return and return and return from the grave. Chromeskull’s mysterious ways his frightening and his appearance is reminisce of an 90’s slasher, but unlike those decade slashers Chromeskull has the most potential in the 2000s.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts, can you think of any other franchise or potentially franchise icons that sparked in the turn of the century?