As director Gilles Paquet-Brenner‘s debut feature in the US and based on a French novel by Serge Brussolo, Walled In was perhaps not the best vehicle to show the celebrated French director’s talents. While not a bad film, it certainly doesn’t dazzle or overly impress.
With a boogeyman who stays (mostly) off-screen that is a maniacal architect working under the belief that if he incarcerate’s live victims into the walls of his creations that their horrific death will strengthen his buildings and allow them to stand forever, there is not a whole lot of jump scares or in your face terror in this horror/thriller.
Moving at a fairly pedestrian pace, the film follows Mischa Barton‘s character, Sam who is the first of the demolition specialising family of Walczak to graduate from college. Her present for this accomplishment is two-fold, she gets a trip to France with her hubby professor Peter (Naom Jenkins) and her first “solo” demolition job as an engineer.
The job is to set up a colossal monolith out in the middle of nowhere that has been built as a luxury apartment building by the world-famous architect Malestrazza (Pascal Gregory). Once she arrives at the apartments she meets Mary the caretaker (Deborah Kara Unger) and her only son Jimmy (Cameron Bright) plus two other residents who’ve refused to move.
After Sam arrives she learns of the building’s disturbing and deadly history and about the horrible death of the architect who built it.
While this film does have some “harrowing” moments, it suffers from a lack of real terror throughout. It is too predictable and slowly paced to build up anything to really deserve it’s genre of horror/thriller. I enjoyed Barton’s performance, but then I usually do, and Unger is always a treat in anything she does.
The real let down was Bright as Jimmy. Where his character is supposed to be deep, withdrawn and tragic, he comes across as snotty, secretive and self-centred. By the time the film’s “twist” is revealed, we’ve already guessed it and by that point do not really care.
Walled In is not a terrible film, it’s just not a great one. Easily watchable and one that you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to while viewing. The overall experience is a bit blasé and not thrilling at all; with a plot and story that befuddles and meanders all over the place and not a few plot holes, the film also suffers from a serious lack of logic that, I feel, may have been destroyed in the editing process.
A 3 out of 5 star film, just for some of the sets and the presence of Mischa Barton and Deborah Kara Unger (who I adore).
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