Status: One Season Ongoing with 9 episodes so far (plus Supplemental Episodes)
Credits: Aaron Hann (Creator/Writer/Director), Mario Miscione (Creator/Writer/Director),Shane Spalione, Lilit Arakelyan, Omar Najam, Barry Warrick
Synopsis: This web series delivers a mock reality/competition series taking place in 2016 in which a group of college students are competing for a multi-million dollar prize. The series is supposedly running on a network that has devoted its programming twenty four hours a day for the seven days of the competition. Each of the participants is in a separate room, all of which are adjoined together in a grid, and each room has some item of interest. The items seem quite random and include such things as a stack of fortune cookies, an exercise bike, a marker board, a bunch of clocks, etc. Linking everybody together is Henry in a room which has a switchboard that can connect with one or multiple rooms depending on which button(s) he presses. As the game starts out, he thinks there are only ten participants, but by the end of the first episode, he discovers the number is actually 150. He begins contacting each person to find out what item is in their room and he has the girl with the marker board keep track of these on the grid. The assumption is that they must somehow find out how to use all of the items properly to solve the puzzle of the game. However, a tremor rocks the complex and one of the people who claims to have been placed in the game as a mole insists that something is wrong and that he no longer has contact with the outside. Now, what started as a game may be turning into a life and death situation.
Review/Commentary: The Vault has proved an interesting web series so far by blending elements that we have seen in previous sci fi productions like Cube and Lost. Of course it doesn’t delve into the horror elements of the former or the intricate storylines of the latter, at least not yet, but it has a passing similarity to both of those. The mystery of the game and the different rooms with their arbitrary contents provides an intriguing enough premise that could actually carry the story for quite a while. Unfortunately, early on the series seemed to drag and feel somewhat padded, which is never a good thing for a web series. There was just not much sense of suspense as the series worked its way through its first few episodes, but that has changed to some degree in the later episodes. The change of scenario with the tremors rocking the complex and the uncertainty of what has happened beyond the walls has finally given the series something more than just a casual mystery to solve and my waning interest has been piqued again.
The performances have all been solid so far, with Henry providing us with a strong and likeable central figure and all of the other characters differentiating themselves well enough so far. And the production values of the show are good as well. It hasn’t relied on special effects thus far, but the sets all look professional enough, not like cheesy throw-togethers from an amateur film. It may lack the intensity and story depth of some of the better sci fi web productions that I have watch like Pioneer One, Cell: The Web Series, or Ark, but it still shows promise and it’s one that I will keep an eye on, though I would definitely like to see them pick up the pace a bit.
The series has produced nine episodes so far of around ten minutes each, and it has three prologue episodes, an Episode 0, and three interstitial episodes (1.5, 2.5, and 3.5) with all of those running usually just a couple of minutes each. It began streaming episodes over a year ago and after a six month break between episode 5 and 6 it resumed again to deliver another four installments (and it appears to be on break again now). It’s worth checking out, even if I don’t consider it quite at the level of some of the better sci fi web series that I have watched like the ones mentioned above. But it could develop into somewhat of a gem as long as it avoids too much meandering, and I believe that genre fans will find it worth watching.
Links: The show’s website has some information available, but not too much. You can watch an introduction to the web series at this link to get a good idea of what to expect. And to watch the full series, including the ancillary episodes, go to the show’s YouTube channel at this link. They have also recently added annotations to the first five episodes, which provide some additional information to the story. I have not gone back and watched these yet, but if you are new to the series, you might want to start out with these. They are available at the show’s YouTube channel as well.