Walled In had potential. A few months ago, this looked like a good idea for a film when I first read about it on IMDB. You have a haunted/possessed building horror film with an interesting cast featuring Mischa Barton, Cameron Bright, Deborah Kara Unger. Then the trailer hit and it featured some creepy claustrophobic moments and a jumpy soundtrack. But then it was announced that Walled In would be a direct to DVD release. Uh oh, a DTV release. But is the movie really that bad?
The short answer? Yes. Yes it is.
Sam Walczak (Barton) is a structural engineer straight out of college. She has it made – at her graduation party, her father announces that he will be making her a partner in his engineering firm. And then she is given her first assignment: to oversee the demolition of a building designed by one of her favorite architects, Joseph Malestrazza. When Sam visits, she discovers that the tenants are keeping some dark secrets about the building. They all act mysteriously and they put her up in very nice accommodations, that just so happened to belong to a family who was killed (murdered?). And thats where the weirdness begins.
At the core, this film is about the building and Joseph Malestrazza, but the plot dances every which way around that core that its really hard to make sense of anything. Or to take any of it seriously. Instead of focusing on the craziness of the architect and making the building out to be a creepy confined space, the majority of the time is spent on Mischa Barton ambling around with a tool belt trying to look like she knows what shes doing. Then theres the plot involving Jimmy (Cameron Bright: Birth, X-Men: The Last Stand), and the possible love connection between him and Sam. Theres also some weird Oedipal thing with him and his mother (Deborah Kara Unger: White Noise, Silent Hill) that is never really explained – its just really weird. The tenants of the building are also weird too, lurking in windows and corners and being extra quiet about whatever secrets are held within the building.
When we finally get to the plot involving Malestrazza though, its kind of hard to believe that the film actually took that turn. Leading up to this point, weve only heard of him. He was this legendary architect who was a genius in his designs. Sam had studied him in school and admired his work. And then hes actually in the movie? Like THIS?
I was at the very least expecting a haunted building movie from Walled In, but it wasnt even that. It was a conglomeration of multiple half-formed ideas that were all thrown together. There is no character development, no thrills, no horror. The dialogue is terrible, and Mischa Barton as a structural engineer is laughable. And the building: what IS it exactly? As Sam is driving up, she passes a sign notifying that she has just entered a National Park. And then shes at the building. What on earth is a giant, ugly, shapeless building that resembles the Jawa Sandcrawler doing in the middle of a national park? Walled In has absolutely nothing to offer.
Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Dolby digital surround sound.
The Making of Walled In – A standard making of in which the director takes the film incredibly seriously, calling it a Hitchcockian psychological thriller. He actually says this is like Hitchcock meets Poe. Wow, in his dreams. 14:28
Theatrical Trailer – Pretty decent trailer. Even after I’ve seen the movie, this makes it look interesting.
Previews: Virgin Territory, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, Cold Prey, Dead Space: Downfall, Laid To Rest
As you can tell, I did NOT enjoy this movie. I saw this with a friend at a screening in January and learned what I could about it online. It looked like it could be OK, but as the movie went on, my friend and I cracked jokes MST3K style. After about halfway through, the entire audience was laughing at the ridiculousness of the film. Walled In does not come recommended.
Starz/Anchor Bay presents Walled In. Directed by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner. Starring: Mischa Barton, Cameron Bright, Deborah Kara Unger, Rob Roy. Written by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner, Olivier Volpi, Rodolphe Tissot, Serge Brussolo, Sylvain White. Running time: 92 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: March 17, 2009. Available at Amazon.com