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dir Dan Bush
scr Dan Bush, Conal Byrne
prd Tom Butterfield, Alex Cutler, Luke Daniels, Alan Pao
with James Franco, Francesca Eastwood, Taryn Manning, Scott Haze, Q'orianka Kilcher, Clifton Collins Jr, Keith Loneker, Michael Milford, Jeff Gum, Jill Jane Clements, Aleksander Vayshelboym, Conal Byrne
release US 1.Sep.17, UK 8.Sep.17
He's behind you! Franco
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a script that simply isn't as clever as the filmmakers think it is, this horror thriller struggles to generate any suspense or terror, even though director-cowriter Dan Bush throws every cinematic gimmick he can think of at the audience. Despite an adept cast, there's nothing to the movie at all, so it feels simplistic and the gyrations of its plot are predictable.
With echoes of a violent earlier heist still lingering in the air, sisters Lea and Vee (Eastwood and Manning) and their hapless nice-guy brother Michael (Haze), plus goons Cyrus and Kramer (Loneker and Milfort), stage a daylight robbery for some big cash. But of course things don't quite go to plan. As a detective (Collins) on the outside realises something's wrong, the staff and customers are taken hostage. Assistant manager Ed (Franco) tries to calm the criminals down by cooperating, while head teller Susan (Kilcher) starts babbling about the bank being haunted.
In this cursory script, characters appear and disappear for pages at a time with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Their conversations consist mainly of small-talk, including background information about the earlier heist and corny family melodrama. Virtually nothing that's said is even remotely believable, but the actors make an effort to sell it. Franco is especially valiant in his attempt, although his character is so sketchy that he never quite makes sense.
But everything is undercooked. Eastwood and Manning both play hotheads, but Loneker and Milfort are the loose cannons in this crew, which couldn't convincingly buy a six-pack at a convenient store, let alone stage a heist. Haze is the designated sensitive soul, and almost every character comments on this so we don't miss it. Only a few hostages have something to do, including Kilcher's dithering teller and Gum's hot security guard. And the always solid Collins could have shot his entire role during a lunch break from another movie.
Actually, there's promise in the set-up, including the underlying supernatural threat. But instead of building intrigue or interest, Bush merely has blurry figures in the background with deafening tones of music, followed occasionally by rubbery grisliness. Without a character we care about, there's no tension. And Bush even cuts away from the gore, losing much of the "action" in inexplicably dark corridors, inexplicably unlit rooms with ludicrously flickering video screens. A filmmaker more confident in his material might have had some terrifying fun with this.
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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