Vandits – Heisting All the Way

Vandits comes as a film that once again sees minor acting celebrities trying their hand at an original story. The results are certainly mixed and did not click for me but I’m sure they would with some audiences. The humor is very niche and seems to be the main focus of the film despite being set in the heist-crime genre. In the end, Vandits is a film that seems quite uneven throughout and, for a concept, probably required a larger budget and more refined script.

The film follows a gang of 4 so-called criminals as they try to rob a seniors bingo hall on Christmas Eve and it goes all sorts of wrong. The head of the Vandits is Uncle Sheldon (Tony Nappo) who owes a debt to Larry, a mysterious figure who has a nephew named Veeny, a wanna-be thug along and his crew Guy (Jesse Camacho) and Jessie (Victoria Turko). All are abnormal characters who clearly are on the outsets of society. Veeny’s thug and serious attitude particularly stand out with his large amount of cussing and loud threats as he screams at both the people at the bingo hall and Guy.

Bingo Hall is said to have upwards of $25,000 for which Veeny says “will get them those Lambos”, another sign of the delusional world that this character lives in. But he’s not the only one who lives in a fantasy world. After the first attempt to rob the Bingo Hall goes wrong, the night resets and Jesse is the one who knows she’s already lived that whole experience. Knowing their ill fate, she guides the crew on an adventure around town to figure out how they can get the money without casualties. Oh, and on the way, she would want to get the number of a cute girl who’s at the bingo hall with her grandma, no biggie right?

Director Stuart Stone of Magic School Bus fame (He voiced Ralphie) makes his 4th feature film blending his unique style of comedy into another original concept. The time loop heist movie is certainly one that’s been a part of other films but none have played with the comedy here as Stone does. It was not my kind of humor for the most part and I certainly think some of the lines could have been better written and delivered but his unique storytelling creates a tone that can easily carry its 87-minute runtime for most audiences.

The first problem with this film coinciding with its low budget would be its setting. The bingo hall, corner store, and outdoors of this small town at night all required overlighting, especially in the outdoor scene with Sheldon standing outside. That along with very clear use of ADR and post effects that take you out of the story make this a film that has to run fully on its humor and quirky story bits, which it doesn’t lack but certainly it did not work for me. I respect it as a true form of underground filmmaking and I’d like to talk to the director about how this film was made because it is clear they had to make it really quick and with limited time for post-production and even the planning of how to shoot these was clearly a lot more run and gun then they would have hoped.

The characters certainly have the potential to be unique, gross oddballs who you somehow pity or love but the direction doesn’t accomplish what was serviced in the script. The fun just wasn’t sticking with me.

Vandits is available on VOD now.

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