Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So Teach (Ted Lyde) in a move that will seriously keep him out of the running for the whole ‘teacher of the year’ award has decided to take four kids from Crenshaw high on a field trip to and old Los Angeles High School / Slave ward because slaves were quite routinely brought to America via the Pacific Ocean. While the Atlantic may have been way more convenient, however due to the log jam of ships it is a little known fact that slave traders often opted to sail all the way around the world – note the Panama Canal wouldn’t have been constructed yet – to process slaves at the Port of Los Angeles. Now you know. Why only four kids, in a school which probably has thousands, drew this incredible set of short straws is beyond me, but here they are, about as generic as they come being that this is a teen slasher flick with the main exception being that they’re all African American. Personally I would’ve a put a white guy in the movie and have him be the Jive talking obnoxious dude destined to die as a little play on the genre… something to think about. Anyway in addition to Teach we have Jock (Austin Priester), Seditty Cheerleader (Shani Pride), Rebel with Dreads (Michael Cory Davis) and Nerd with Curl (Kyle Walker). Oh and there’s also Jamaican Bus Driver Dude played by the director of ‘The Vault’, James Black.

They’re about to demolish this school and Teach wants to show his kids the history there, plus Teach met his late wife there which is probably the only reason he dragged the students to this locale, which he could have done on his own time after work quite honestly. No sooner than they show when the spooky Security Guard (Leopaldo Papi) materializes out of nowhere asking what the hell they’re doing there. Ripped of ability to blink his eyes, Spooky Security Guard advises our kids to be careful and STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT! Now if he really wanted our kids to stay out of the basement he would’ve said ‘by all means go into the basement because it’s safe and there’s nothing bad that can happen to you there but… STAY OFF THE ROOF!’ He didn’t do that and thus Jock and Seditty Cheerleader end up in the basement right next to THE VAULT!

Now our mystical spooky security guards sole purpose of existing was to guard THE VAULT as we witness in the films first scene as he beat some wayward graffiti artist to death for trying to open THE VAULT but when Jock and Seditty are fiddling with the locks… where the hell is our mystical security guard? So Seditty gets all possessed and stuff and opens THE VAULT unleashing the evil dead mystical slave Shazuku (Parris Washington) who is just a hankering to do some generic teenager / mystical janitor / bad teacher killin’. The reasons behind this are about as outlandish as they come so we’re not gonna get into all of that but rest assured that it’s time for folks to die and hope that somehow, someway our final survivors can find a way to put Shazuku back into THE VAULT before he does whatever he has to do… that… well… makes him do something else. I forgot.

Now despite my tongue in cheek description of this movie I gotta tell you, ‘The Vault’ was waaaaaaay better than I expected it to be. I mean I have seen my fair share of these so-called ‘Urban Horror Movies’, plus taking into consideration that this one is a good eight or nine years old, I was fully expecting one of those shot on videotape, poorly lit, on camera miked, dual VCR edited monstrosities that York and Maverick used to flood the market with around that time but this was not the case with ‘The Vault’. This was a movie that was competently produced and directed by James Black, the production values, while on the low budget side were still much higher than I seriously expected them to be, there were some decent special effects and the cast wasn’t half bad.

So this isn’t to say that ‘The Vault’ is a good movie… oh good heavens no. I’m just saying that it rises to the level of being watched like any other bad movie without the added pressures of trying to hear or see the actors. ‘The Vault’ has a narrative which is completely and totally ridiculous making almost no sense and making up historical facts as it was going along. It seemed to be heading in one direction and then would switch gears to go in a completely different direction with both directions leading virtually nowhere. Other than the fact that’s the cast is completely African American there’s nothing really fresh or original about the story, plus Tony Todd and Candyman probably closed the book on the whole evil wicked revenge minded slave dude back in 1992.

Still, the acting is pretty good in this movie, Black’s direction is tight and efficient, Shani Pride packs a lot of cuteness into what can’t be more the 85 pounds of body mass, and it did have some decent gore effects. Ridiculous and silly, yes. But still a bit of pleasant surprise, no doubt lofted by some extremely low expectations? Hell to the yes to lowered expectations!

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