Tag: q’orianka kilcher

The Vault

The Vault (2017)
★ / ★★★★

Surely there is horror to be had in a hostage situation and so the combination of heist film and the horror genre should result in an interesting mix. But “The Vault,” written by Dan Bush and Conal Byrne, directed by the former, proves to be yet another uninspired take on either genres and, as an admixture, an unimaginative experiment. You know a movie is in trouble when a would-be creepy shadow walks in front of the camera and the score booms as if to deafen the audience into submission. These jump scares are never earned.

The story begins with a bank robbery as various individuals enter the building giving knowing looks to one another. It is only a matter of time until they pull out the big guns and command the unsuspecting victims to get on the floor. While the opening minutes command a level suspense and tension, particularly because of the performances by Taryn Manning and Francesca Eastwood as two sisters, one volatile and the other calmer but calculating, respectively, these scenes do not provide anything special and memorable. Interesting, however, is that the five thieves are smart enough to start a fire in a nearby warehouse so that the authorities will be distracted enough by the chaos.

A number of characters are wasted—strange because memorable faces are employed. A welcome addition is Q’orianka Kilcher as a lead bank teller. During the more dramatic moments in which her character attempts to appeal to the humanity of one of the robbers (Scott Haze), notice how underused she is. Although she delivers one of the quieter performance, I argue her approach is the most intriguing. Another missed opportunity is the casting of Clifton Collins Jr. as a detective who hears a plea for help on the radio. Other than to look concerned outside of the bank, the screenplay fails to establish the character as a keen problem-solver or as an effective man with a badge at the very least.

The film begins the nosedive it never recovers from as supernatural elements are introduced. Under the condition that no one else gets harmed, the assistant manager (James Franco) volunteers information that there is six million in the bank’s vault which is conveniently located underground. The events that unfold in the basement are most uninspired. The ghouls look like they are ripped right off an ordinary haunted house walkthrough. Notice the lack of details in their masks, the bad cosmetics, how they move, and the sounds they make. None of it is convincing; at times it is actually laughable that the charade is supposed to be scary.

“The Vault” relies on the idea that just because something strange lurks in the dark, everything else would appear or feel creepy. Unlike the happenings on the bank floor, there is no tension-building underground and so the scares command no power. Mixing of genres is a daring feat because both must work on their own first and be equally effective together. In this case, however, one is marginally tolerable—the robbery—and the other is appalling—the horror. It is a shame because there is a mildly intriguing backstory that occurred in 1982.

The New World

The New World (2005)
★★★ / ★★★★

English settlers landed on Louisiana in 1607. Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) was to be hanged, on the grounds of mutiny, the moment they reached land. But Captain Newport (Christopher Plummer) changed his orders because he knew Captain Smith was a good explorer. He just needed to be controlled. When Captain Smith met Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher), daughter of an Indian leader, the two began a forbidden love affair. Written and directed by Terrence Malick, “The New World” moved at a deliberate slow pace in order to highlight man’s relationship with nature. It worked most of the time. I saw beauty in the way the director captured the wind caressing the grass, the way the characters leaned into the magnificent trees, and the elegant movement of the water as the ships heaved its way onto land. Pocahontas had two men in her life and the emotions were dealt with complexity. In the end, I was convinced she loved them both in different ways. When she was with Captain Smith, I noticed that they always looked into each other’s eyes. The way the camera lingered as the captain taught Pocahontas English words held a sweetness and innocence. As their bodies slowly inched closer to one another, we felt their concern that someone could be looking. There was an understated joy when they touched each other’s skin. When Pocahontas was with John Rolfe (Christian Bale), the two spent their time looking at a distance, as if transfixed at the sight of the future. But when they did look into each other’s eyes, they shared an outward passion whether it be in a hut or out in the garden. Through the men in her life, we saw the way she changed. She left her culture because she was a dreamer. But leaving didn’t mean forgetting. She was curious of the life outside of her sphere and she felt as though her sarcrifices were worth it. Like Captain Smith and John Rolfe, she was an explorer. But my favorite scene didn’t have anything to do with a shot involving a gorgeous scenery or her interactions with the two most important men in her life. It was when Pocahontas handed a homeless man a coin and gently touched his cheek. It held a great meaning for me because it was reassuring. Even though her style of clothing and the way in which she carried herself had changed, she was the same person we met in the beginning of the film. She was playful, compassionate, and connected with the Earth. It’s understandable when I hear people say that the film is just too slow for their liking. It wasn’t plot-driven. Most movies are but they don’t need to be. “The New World” was an exercise of the senses and, in my opinion, how we can relate our personal experiences with it. As an immigrant, scenes like Pocahontas smelling a book because she had never seen one before had meaning for me. I grew up in the Philippines not having a computer in my home. When I moved to America, I didn’t know how to type on the keyboard or even use the mouse to click at an icon to go to the internet. In small ways, I saw myself in Pocahontas. Sometimes small is enough.