Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY JOE X YOUNG
Heist meets Geist
I love a good ‘heist’ movie almost as much as I love a good horror, so when the opportunity to watch a combination of both arrived I thought it would be worth my time. Okay, I’m not going to say I was wrong about that, as it was a good enough film to keep my interest overall, but as absolute honesty is my bag I have to tell you that although I enjoyed it overall, it’s a flawed film in a number of ways.
First of all is something which really is just a personal gripe, it’s got a lot to do with James Franco, or to be much more accurate, James Franco’s moustache, it’s well on the way to being a ‘70s porn-stache and deserves a film of its own, but in this one it just looks a bit moth-eaten and obvious.
Moving on from the moustache to the film proper, it’s a great idea, five people stage a robbery which goes pear-shaped almost as soon as they are in the bank, which isn’t the best start, but hey-ho there you go. There’s a dose of mayhem outside as a fire is raging in a warehouse, the fire set by the bank robbers to keep the emergency services busy. Part of me is going ‘nah’ as it’s a bit dumb to bring that kind of heat (pardon the pun) around when trying to rob a bank, but another part of me is thinking that at least they have some sort of cover for the old ‘in-out no messing about’ robbery. There’s a brace of females involved in the blag, one is Leah, a woman attending a job interview, and the other is Vee, an awkward customer, both of whom are just awaiting the arrival of three robbers dressed as firefighters before they drop the acting and get on with the robbing. Unfortunately it’s absolutely clear that it is acting, which is made all the less credible by Francesca Eastwood’s blonde wig, which even on a good day would look like a trainee Drag Queen’s first effort. Is that important? I think so, because if I were interviewing someone for a job in a bank, where trust would be a vital asset, I’d be a little concerned if Clint’s daughter turned up looking like ‘Bad Disguise Barbie’.
The robbery itself doesn’t take much, the usual stuff, hostages bound, their heads hooded in cash-bags, the safe opened after a lot of fumbling and so on, but the yield is poor, so much so that there’s arguing over who stays to look for more or who escapes with the meagre pickings, it’s all a bit pointless as it’s revealed that three of the robbers are family, the brother, Michael, got into a bit of trouble and needs cash to get square, and the women are his sisters who are helping him. Their relation to the two others isn’t really stated, but doesn’t need to be either, as one is a safe-cracker and the other is the muscle. I’m not sure if the brother’s predicament is supposed to elicit sympathy for the robbers, but it doesn’t help, even when Michael remains adamant that they have one rule ‘nobody gets hurt’. Aww, the big bad bank robber has a heart, but the point here is that we’re watching villains performing a heist, and as such they are the bad guys, so it’s not as if we’re going to be rooting for them when they meet their respective fates. Our sympathies should rightly be with the hostages, talking of which:
From underneath a cash bag the hole under James Franco’s moustache offers help. They remove the bag and he tells them that he’s the assistant manager and he can help them get away as well as get six million dollars secreted in a second vault. Obviously this seems the right way to go, and our robbers decide they’ll crack the vault and get rich before going home for beer and pizza. There’s just one snag, which is actually totally spelled out for us in the opening credits as well as talked about in the preamble before the robbery, in 1982 the bank was the scene of a major crime, big nasty robbery gone South resulting in a high body count and things which go bump in the night ever since.
NOBODY goes down there. NOBODY. Muhahahahaaaaa……
Well, that doesn’t deter the robbers, one of whom grabs his trusty sack of safe-breaking tools and heads for the vault. He does in fact get it open, but that’s not all he gets as some nasties hiding in the dark step out and snag him, forcing him to go all Abel Ferrara with his cracksman’s drill.
I won’t dwell on the gore, there’s not much of it, which is for the better in this instance, same as the ‘jump scares’ being kept to a minimum, so it’s more about the atmosphere and the supposition of something more sinister at work. It’s actually a schizophrenic offering, the heist part being subdued to the overall detriment of the film, especially as it involves a Police Detective, played by Clifton Collins Jr, who is seriously underused throughout. I’ve never seen a bad performance from Mr Jr and always considered him to be one of the finest character actors out there, so to see him in what is basically a throwaway role is a sad waste of a talent. I’m also left wondering what James Franco was doing in this as he is playing a small part in a film in which the comparative unknowns get the major screen time. Maybe he had a slow weekend and the phone rang, who knows, I just think he’s wasted in this.
What happens below stairs is creepy and malevolent; we’re treated to a few scenes of well-handled horror but to my way of thinking it was all a bit disjointed. The ending is an attempt at a ‘Sixth Sense’ finish but doesn’t come close. Would I recommend it? I think I’d probably say that it’s worth a V.O.D. but I wouldn’t get my umbrella out on a rainy day to go see it at a cinema.
If we had a GingerNutOmeter this would score around two-thirds of a packet.