Recent engineering graduate Sam Walczak travels to the middle of nowhere to supervise demolition of the mysterious Malestrazza Building. She soon comes face to face with the horrifying secrets of the building and its pas... more »t inhabitants, many of whom were entombed alive within the walls of the pristine building by its obsessed architect. As Sam begins to unravel the clandestine details of the architect's life and his astonishing building, she is drawn into the dark and frightening reality which forces her to accept her own dark past and turn the tables before she becomes the last victim.« less
"One good thing about the newest generation of horror film directors is their willingness to move on to something different, to make horror films with new ideas and stories rather than just rely on the tried and true. It may not always make the best film or the scariest, but at least they make the attempt and deserve credit for doing so. Such is the case with WALLED IN.
The film opens with a young child trapped in a tall yet small cell, perhaps 2 feet wide. As she calls for her father, the cell beings to flood with a dark bluish gray substance we can only assume is concrete. It fills until it covers her and we move forward to the present day.
Mischa Barton plays Sam Walczak, a young woman who has just graduated from her training as a demolition engineer. Belonging to a family and demolitionists, it is her job to study the structure of a building and decide the best way to bring it down. As a graduation gift, her father presents her with the task of setting up the demolition of a building made by a famous architect.
Arriving at the location, she is stunned to find that the building stands alone in the middle of nowhere. The building is a huge apartment complex. The inhabitants left in the building are sparse at best. They include the landlady Mary (Deborah Kara Under) and her strange son Jimmy (Cameron Bright), an elderly woman who was secretary to the architect and still houses many of his records/books in her apartment and a vet who lives there as well.
As Sam wanders the halls and checks out the building for stress points, she is observed by someone. We discover that it's Jimmy, who is attracted to her, yet definitely too young. Sam sees this and although engaged, somewhat flirts with the boy in the hopes of learning more about the building.
Jimmy does reveal a lot about the building and its architect. It seems that the building was the site of a nefarious murder many years prior, one that took the life of his father. While a handy man was blamed for the deaths, it was thought that the architect was behind them all, especially since he disappeared shortly after they occurred. In all, 16 people were missing and a few were discovered, cemented into the walls of the building.
Sam and Jimmy continue to look through the building, including a secret room that always remains locked upstairs. While there, Sam witnesses Mary talking to one of the walls and acting strangely. As she wanders these halls, her own sense of fear and claustrophobia take hold and she begins to feel as if she's being watched. Good call.
Someone is watching Sam. But just who is it and what they want aren't revealed until near the end of the film. And just what evil presides over this house and why don't come out till the building is nearly destroyed with Sam in it.
The majority of this film is build up and revelation as to the secrets of the building and its designer. Like an onion, pieces are peeled back and we discover not only the secret of the complex itself but that of its tenants and the reason it was built like it was. Giving up that information here might provide you with some answers, but the development of those answers are what actually make this movie better than one would expect.
Suffice to say that there is an evil here and one that affects all who enter. And it's not simply one person keeping an eye on the others but more than one. The last portion of the film, perhaps 30 minutes or so, deal with what happens when Sam discovers the evil behind the building and her attempts to escape from it.
The acting here isn't the best but not the worst either. Barton does a standard job but you sometimes question why the character doesn't just stop digging into the secrets and call for back up from her family. If it's simple pride because it's her first job, okay but still, when in over your head, look for help.
Bright as Jimmy is an odd choice. Having seen him in several other films, his characters always seem a bit off. It's as if you know up front that he's troubled and going to be behind a lot of what's going on. While he does a good job, perhaps someone else might have been a less obvious choice for the role. Then again, maybe he isn't what he seems to be at first. You'll have to watch to find out.
The movie clocks in at 91 minutes and all offer an interesting tale of horror that doesn't rely on gore or chainsaws. Instead we get a thoughtful well thought out plot that makes you glad you're not renting here. It's that sort of creepy old dark house feeling you got from classic films and yet it takes place in a modern setting. The spirits are definitely up to something here and just what or who isn't something you're likely to guess up front. For an interesting horror film that delivers, this one comes off pretty well. "
If this film was in French it would be great Euro trash... O
APC Reviews | USA | 12/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If this film was in French it would be a perfect piece of style conscious, Euro trash "suspense" and "terror-lite" type movie making. It is not in French. But it is, however, unashamed to act out its peculiar premise and its stylishly framed but derivative plot devices with a vague Euro-esque decadence, as though everyone in the film wished that they had in fact been speaking French or Italian. Think "The Shinning" meets "Psycho" meets "Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea". In fact, echoing "Sailor Who Fell...", Mischa Barton bears a more than suggestive resemblance to Sarah Miles, and Cameron Bright bears a striking resemblance to Jonathan Kahn, the boy who played Sarah Miles' son in "Sailor Who Fell..."
There's something about the film that makes you think that the producers and writers were thinking of Asia Argento, or felt that aspiring to make an Asia Argento like film was a high calling.
The production values are much higher than you might have any reason to expect, and the film is stylishly and well designed, lit and photographed. The lead actors all do very serviceable work, and Mischa Barton is especially good in her Sarah Miles mode. However, the presence of many different production and distributing company logos on the front end of the movie is the sure tip off that this direct to video production has been handed around quite a bit to raise the necessary capital and deals to get itself before the camera and finally out into the marketplace. How many companies does it require to fund, produce and distribute a C-list movie? Four or five, evidently.
This Blu-Ray disc is so cheap it has no menus, no pop up menus, no extras and no sound options at all. Nada. It just plays, over and over.
Is it scary? Not really. Is it anxiety provoking? Well, no. Is it peculiar that a world famous architect, thought to be dead, has been secretly living the life of an imprisoned mole at the bottom of an eight story tall well hidden in the center of a Neutra like high-rise apartment building located in the vast empty fields of Saskatchewan, while waiting for a beautiful woman to someday fall into, or be fed into, the shaft by a Norman Bates like looney-kid with a strangely foxy mother, who both live almost alone in the building after all the other residents have either been inexplicably murdered or have moved out, so that the architect may entomb the woman, or himself, using an automatic concrete mixing and pouring system of his own device, built into the building with forethought of this eventuality and a knowledge of ancient Egyptian building practices, so as to make the foundations of the building immortal? Well, uh-huh.
Is it great to watch Deborah Kara Unger be Deborah Kara Unger and to scope out the decaying but stylish mid-century modern sets, furnishings and set dressing? Well, you betcha. This film has to be on the "guilty pleasures" shelf. But, still, it's there for a reason. Oddly recommendable. "
Condemned for being structurally unsound . . .
trebe | 02/07/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Walled-In (2009) does provide some twisted minor thrills, but despite having four writers, the story makes almost no logical sense. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner is in charge of this mess that features Mischa Barton (The O.C.), as Samantha Walczak, of the firm Walczak and Sons (where are the sons?) who are in the business of demolishing buildings. Her job is to determine the best way to demolish an ugly, monolithic apartment building, located in an isolated area, in an unspecified American location.
The structure was designed by architect Joseph Malestrazza (Pascal Greggory), who apparently had some radical ideas regarding building materials, as some fifteen years prior (1993), human bodies were discovered inside the concrete walls of the structure. One of the dead, was the husband of the building's current caretaker Mary Sutter (Deborah Kara Unger), who along with her teenage son Jimmy (Cameron Bright), are among the handful, still residing in the condemned structure. Jimmy is enamored with Sam, and their developing 'relationship' is about all there is happening here, besides Sam wandering around the halls measuring, and painting red X's where the demo charges are supposed to go. Events suddenly take a dramatic turn in the film's final act, as matters descend into a dark twisted opera.
Relying on `atmosphere' and ignoring reality, pretentious, melodramatic, drivel like this, insults the intelligence of the audience. The setting is unique, but not in a credible way. The unattractive building is supposed to have been the home for hundreds of people, yet there isn't even a paved road to the place. There are no visible utility poles, so power and communication service apparently gets there via underground lines. Hardly likely. The building is built alongside a lake? Tricky to do, but possible. The structure isn't compliant with building code, as it has no elevator, landscaping, fire alarm system, exterior lighting, or covered parking. It does however have crappy lighting, hidden shafts and passages, some restless spirits, a totally wacked out roof (are those solar panels?), and an overall design that would never have been approved by any competent building department in the USA. The building's biggest 'secret', just could never happen.
Sam Walczak is laughable as an engineer. This job is her big test as a professional, yet she knows absolutely nothing about the history of the building, and has to rely on a kid for information. The term 'blueprint' is archaic, referring to a process that has not been used for decades. Explosive charges are typically placed to destroy structural members, usually columns. A structural wall does not crumble when hit with an axe, so there's no point painting an X to plant a charge there. Sam is working in a low light environment, exploring unlighted shafts, but doesn't even have a flashlight.
Mischa Barton does what she can, but the script is appallingly awful. Cameron Bright does a good job as an annoying, creepy kid, but unfortunately the best acting that Deborah Kara Unger does, is in the humorous making of featurette, where she talks about how great the film is."
The week's most pleasant surprise by far.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 09/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Walled In (Gilles Paquet-Brenner, 2009)
The trailer for Walled In was hands-down the best trailer I've seen so far in 2009. That always means one of two things: either the movie it belongs to is going to be eight different kinds of totally awesome or one of the worst movies I see that year. And while Walled In has its flaws, it's definitely closer to the awesome side of the equation. In fact, I'd call it the best movie I watched this week without much hesitation.
Sam Walczak (The Oh in Ohio's Mischa Barton), a newly-minted engineer at her father's demolition firm, gets sent on her first assignment--the government-ordered demolition of a high-rise apartment building in the middle of nowhere. The building still has a few quirky inhabitants, most notably the caretaker, Mary (Paranoia 1.0's Deborah Kara Unger), and her lonely son Jimmy (Cameron Bright, who will soon become the heartthrob of teen girls everywhere in New Moon and Eclipse). Jimmy and Sam hit it off, though Jimmy seems to be reading a bit more into it than Sam intends. Things get a touch tense when Sam's boyfriend (Saw IV's Noam Jenkins) appears, but the romantic entanglements take second fiddle to the ghosts wandering around the place. You see, the nutzoid architect who built the place entombed sixteen people in the foundations of the building. While they were still alive. And they ain't happy.
No, the movie is not without flaws. Yeah, there are some minor plot holes (I think the people who were complaining that the movie was one big plot hole just weren't paying close enough attention), and some of the acting was worse than average, but about ten minutes into this movie, I started saying to myself, "who is this kid playing Jimmy? 'cause man, he's good." Unger is always a treat, and Barton is always at least capable. The plot is a lot of fun, and the haunted house theme just never gets old; just in the past decade we've had six or seven really good haunted house flicks to balance out the junk. Paquet-Brenner brings in some very cool variations on the theme to keep things fresh here, and it works. I just have one request: can someone translate the Serge Brussolo novel from which this film is adapted? I've gotta get my hands on this. *** ½ "
Pascal Gregory looks like a cross between Mickey Rourke and
Cleo | USA | 06/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"disgusting but delicious like a naughty Christmas present. I loved this movie although I didn't expect to. I wasn't a fan of Mischa Barton having only seen her in Sixth Sense and tabloid photos but she turned in an interesting performance. Deborah Kara Unger I find to be mesmerizing in a Borg Queen way ever since Payback. She turned in a strong performance in the supporting role. The surprise appearance of Pascal Gregory looked even in caricature - magnetic. The color saturations hinted at the French touch of this film, not Pascal Gregory in the cast. This felt American if not universal. The evil is not supernatural or zombies but simply human awfulness and that's interesting. I highly recommend this movie but watch it with no expectations. Human beings are just awful. And if the Creole and Cajuns of New Orleans were agreeable, I'd want to move them into the giant indestructible Stackhouses that Malastrazza built. No more mold.
n.b. The design in the atrium is Hexagram 32 of the I-Ching to spare anyone else from looking it up:
The I Ching - Hexagram 32 Heng I Ching Hexagram 32 - Heng I Ching Hexagram: 32
Formed By The Trigrams: Thunder over Wind.
General: True persistence is a process of constant renewal.
Love: To deepen your relationship you should adapt to changes around you.
Business: You will be rewarded for the effort you have put into your business ventures.
Personal: Focus on self-renewal and make sure you avoid inertia.
Overview: Heng is telling you that the only sure constant in life is change. When mistakes are made in a particular strategy the same mistake is often repeated. It does not show strength of character to formulate the same strategy (even if it has worked in the past). Rather it shows a weakness in your refusal to adapt and change. There will always be obstacles in life. Some may be often repeated. If a strategy that has worked several times in the past does not work now then change your strategy. It is also about inertia and complacency. You should always be focusing on self-renewal and not becoming complacent. Avoid stagnation.