Walled In

Year: 2009
Production Co: Experiences Films
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writer: Rodolphe Tissot/Olivier Volpi/Sylvain White/Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Cast: Mischa Barton, Cameron Bright, Beborah Kara Unger

There's a pretty strong hook here but the movie goes on way too long and doesn't know what to do with it. Two very early motifs make things look very promising. The first is in the film's opening scene, where we see a young girl waking up in what seems to be a box, going from confused to fearful and eventually panic stricken as wet cement pours in through vents at the bottom. The picture cuts just as it passes her neck and ears and makes it look like you're in for a very disturbing horror film.

The second is the visual of the crumbling hotel location. The sight of a stark but very grand building on the edge of a lake in a windswept, empty desert is very arresting and again seems like a great place for a scary movie. When you learn about the grisly history of the place, things seems even better.

When young demolition expert Sam (Mischa Barton) comes to stay at the hotel to study the original blueprints and draw up plans for the building's destruction, it turns out to be the place where the crazy former owner killed nine people and buried them in concrete in the walls.

As Sam deals with the last few residents (who all seem to be on a spectrum between weird and hostile) she just tries to do her job. But it's made even more difficult by the now-dead owner's spooky wife (Debra Kara Unger) and their bright but surly son Jimmy (Cameron Bright).

But after all the set-up and introductions, Walled In just seems to take a long time to go nowhere. The entire first half looks like it's a ghost story, with Sam and Jimmy running around the place chasing shadows and talking about the crazy occult-loving former resident that's supposed to have built secret tunnels and passages everywhere.

Then it goes right off the reservation when Jimmy captures Sam and throws her down the enormous pit that forms the centre of the building – where the crazy occult loving resident has been living in the darkness for years.

Even though we've known Jimmy has been no-so-secretly in love with Sam, it turns out he's the psychopath of the tale, intending to keep her in the hole while they destroy the building and bury her with it (how Sam's coworkers come to plant all the explosives while she's still apparently missing is a mystery, the answer to which I don't remember but which surely couldn't make any sense).

It's a great location and there's a good creepy visual style, there's just not enough to go along with it to keep you interested.

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