She’s nervous as she takes the cab across the big, unwelcoming city, a vagrant hollering at the window as the driver pauses under the bridge where he takes shelter. She arrives at the vast, imposing building which is her destination and calls home to her mom, babysitting her daughter, then she steps inside, vanishing into the opulent labyrinth of empty rooms and corridors she will walk that night, and the next, and the next
The rules are simple: the night shift always has two guards, one on patrol, one in the monitoring room, and under no circumstances are they to allow anybody in. “This job pays well for a reason. The nights here are going to be long, and dark.” But Julia has little choice, out of chances, down on her luck and popping heavy duty antipsychotic medication to control her symptoms.
Having shown her around, her employer introduces to her colleague, Dennis Cooper, then leaves them to the shift. Cooper is neither enthused nor welcoming, accustomed to having performed this induction many times before and most of Julia’s predecessors didn’t last a week, realising it’s not for them or thinking that they’re better than the job and walking out.
Cooper’s “initiation” prank doesn’t go down well with Julia, cutting power to the lift and triggering her claustrophobia and fear of the dark, but neither does she make a very good impression on her new colleague. First is the homeless guy battering on the door, the same man she saw on the ride over, whom she insists they must take in out of the freezing rain, then is her insistence that they investigate the area shown on the map but which has no corresponding closed circuit camera, area 441.
Cooper insists there is no room at that location, but irked at Julia’s presumption he demands that she be the one to go down to the basement to confirm what he already knows. Instead she finds a sealed door leading to a vault, and beyond it darkened catacombs from which she becomes convinced she can hear voices.
Marketed under an array of titles, The Abandoned, The Confines and now Confined, whatever else the film may or may not have it boasts a magnificent central location of beauty and character, but while many words could be used to describe the complex that list does not include the word sinister, nor does former music video director Eytan Rockaway do anything to imbue much needed atmosphere in his feature debut.
Still etched in the memory as the hero of The Lost Boys, Jason Patric is always a strong and dedicated presence who makes unusual choices in his projects, and through him Cooper becomes more than a weary misanthrope, the one surprising moment in the film not a scare but a moment for his character. Making out he’s a lot meaner than he actually is, Cooper is a decent guy, but he’s seen it all and been let down time and again, so why should Julia be any different?
Like Patric, Louisa Krause is an experienced film and stage performer accustomed to being stretched; both have featured in the work of writer/director Neil LaBute, he in the film of Your Friends & Neighbours, she in the first production of his play In a Dark Dark House, and as Julia she is fragile and frightened but also resolutely clinging to her beliefs and her determination to do the right thing.
Good as they are, Krause and Patric struggle against the limitations of the pedestrian material which they have been given, situations which just aren’t that interesting, the tunnels beyond the locked door leading to rooms of makeshift beds and children’s drawings on the wall, nothing worth the time the audience have invested and returning to the control room there is argument rather than advancement of the minimal plot.
Ido Fluk’s script is plagued with timewasting (we know it’s a huge building, do we need to follow Julia down every flight of stairs as she descends from the control room to the tunnels?), moments of absolute nonsense (an attack by empty wooden chairs is simply not threatening), the overly expositionary final act is heavy handed and unnecessary considering there is barely any mystery to be explained, and the closing “rug pull” manages only to reveal the gaping hole in the worn carpet beneath, making the already tiresome film even more pointlessly preposterous.