Walled In

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Walled In
Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Produced by Kevin DeWalt
Written by Serge Brussolo
Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Starring Mischa Barton
Cameron Bright
Deborah Kara Unger
Music by David Kristian
Cinematography Karim Hussain
Release dates 17 March 2009 (US, Canada)
5 October 2009 (UK)
Running time 100 mins
Country United States, France, Canada
Language English
Budget $8 million

Walled In is a 2009 horror-thriller directed and co-written by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. The film is based on the best-selling French novel Les Emmurés by Serge Brussolo.[1] It is the English-language debut of critically acclaimed French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner. The film was shot in Saskatchewan, Canada.


Sam Walczak (Mischa Barton), is a recent engineering graduate. At her graduation party, her father, an owner of a demolition company, gives her a gift: a job supervising the demolition of a building in the middle of nowhere. If she's successful, she will become his partner. Sam arrives at the Malestrazza Building (named after its architect), and is greeted by Mary (Deborah Kara Unger), the caretaker. Sam tells Mary she will be staying in one of the apartments in the building. Jimmy (Cameron Bright), the caretaker's teenage son, takes her bags to her apartment and explains the rules of the building. She is to stay off the eighth floor because it is Malestrazza's and the roof because it is too dangerous.

Sam asks about the building, and Mary is surprised that Sam is not aware of the building's history and that it's better that she does not know. Sam is curious, and while at the local store she looks on the Internet and finds that the Malestrazza Building was a crime scene where 16 bodies were found entombed in the walls. Since Sam knows the story about the building, Jimmy takes her to the eighth floor and tells her the story. Malestrazza's mistake was taking the girl seen at the beginning of the movie. The girl had a puppy, and when the police went to question the architect, the puppy darted into his apartment and led the police to a wall. They found the little girl in the wall. Jimmy is now that puppy's owner. The police then locate 15 additional bodies in the walls of the eighth floor. Mary (the caretaker) and her husband were also residents of the apartment building. Mary had to identify her husband, whose face was ripped off by the concrete while she was pregnant with Jimmy. They arrested a disgruntled factory worker for the murders. The lights go out in the abandoned eighth floor, and Sam hurts her leg. In the bathroom, Jimmy cleans her wound and then begins feeling her thigh. Sam asks what he is doing and he realizes his error and stops.

Sam has nightmares about being entombed in the walls.

Sam's boyfriend arrives and admires the building. The arrival of Sam's boyfriend upsets Jimmy. Sam and Jimmy have an argument and Jimmy says that after she finishes her report she'll leave and forget all about him, to which she replies that she would not. As Sam and her boyfriend explore the 8th floor, they secretly watch Mary at that place where her husband's body was found. They eventually talk to Mary, and, when she leaves the apartment, they are both locked in. Looking for a way out, they find a passage way that is not on the blueprints. They travel down the corridor and notice the walls have windows that allow a person to look into all the apartments. Sam realizes that Jimmy was watching her while she was in the bathroom and is upset. They eventually land in a different part of the building and move a false wall where they enter the garbage room and see an exit sign. Mary opens the door and asks if they are done looking through peoples' garbage.

Later that evening, Sam and her boyfriend are in her room having sex. Jimmy is on the other side of the wall listening and feeling distraught. Sam stops in the middle and is worried, aware that Jimmy might be there. Sam's boyfriend calms her fears and continues, while Jimmy is behind the wall in agony that Sam is with someone else. The next day they wake up and find Jimmy's butchered dog in their apartment. Sam's boyfriend thinks Jimmy killed the dog and wants to leave.

As they were about to leave, Jimmy gives Sam a gift, Malestrazza's journal, which talks about the design of the building and his theories. The building was like the Egyptian pyramids (hence the corridors not on the blueprints), she also realizes that that is why the building has so much space in the middle and that there is something in the center where light can show all the way down to the basement. Jimmy tells her that he is going to go to the roof to find the light source she is talking about. When Jimmy doesn't return, Sam and her boyfriend go to the roof. They find the part of the building she was looking for, a hole in the roof or shaft that leads straight down to the basement. Sam realizes that Jimmy must have known about this and is about to leave when she hears Jimmy call out that he fell down the hole and is hurt and needs Sam to come down and help him. Sam is eventually lowered down the hole by her boyfriend, but at the halfway point her boyfriend is shot with some sort of weapon that looks like a pointed long steel rod. He leans over the hole, holding the rope, as he bleeds down the hole and all over Sam who gets frightened and lets go of the rope and is now hanging upside down as her dead boyfriend bleeds all over her clothes and body.

Jimmy then drives Sam's car to mail her demolition report and then sinks her car into a lake.

Sam awakens in the basement area naked but covered with blankets. She sees a man sitting with a lamp on. Sam finds her clothes and puts them on. She asks the man who he is, but he says that she already knows. She figures out that he is Malestrazza. He plays the tape for her of Jimmy asking for help. Jimmy is keeping her down there with Malestrazza until she learns to love him. Sam also learns that Malestrazza was the mastermind behind the murders and is dumbfounded that people believe that a factory worker could concoct such a scheme of entombing people. She keeps asking about her boyfriend and Malestrazza tries to tell her that he is dead by cutting his arm and saying one mark for every soul. He also tells her that if he does what Jimmy wants, Jimmy is nice, but can be very cruel and imaginative when he disobeys Jimmy's orders.

Jimmy is back at the hole and sends down a cassette tape. Malestrazza plays the tape, and Jimmy says that he wants to see Sam and Malestrazza dance. Sam reluctantly dances, but, when Jimmy tells them to kiss, Malestrazza smiles showing Sam his blackened teeth, and she protests. Malestrazza pulls her close and forces her to kiss him. After a few seconds, Jimmy tells them to stop and threatens Malestrazza not to touch Sam again. Jimmy then sends down a basket with food, water, and a two-way radio. He tells Sam to keep the radio with her so that they can talk and be close.

Later, Jimmy asks his mother "how do you know when someone really loves you?". Mary says that you know when the person is willing to sacrifice everything (or their life) for the other person. He then says "is that why you sacrificed your son for a dead man?"

Sam looks for a way to escape and realizes one wall leads to the garbage area. When Jimmy returns, she lies and says that she is hurt and needs medicine. She talks about the time when Jimmy bandaged up her knee and claims that she enjoyed that time and their time together, but that in order to show him all that she can do for him she needs to get out. Sam walks to the center of the room and tell him that this is for him and she removes her shirt. Jimmy looks down and leans back. Sam gets her medicine. She opens the capsules and starts creating a mix to try and blow out the wall to get into the garbage room. Sam's attempt fails, and Jimmy is upset that she tried to escape.

Before Jimmy could exact his punishment, his mother, Mary, catches him. Mary realizes that Sam is in the hole with Malestrazza. Mary tells Jimmy that place was for the architect not for anyone else. She realizes that Sam must stay in the hole with Malestrazza, or else they'll take her away and Jimmy will be an orphan.

Sam is stuck in the hole with Malestrazza, who she realizes does not want to escape. This is his tomb, and he picked her to kill him. She eventually does kill him after some taunting, and he thanks her after he falls into his tomb and it begins to fill with cement. Sam is by the wall hoping that Jimmy will come through and save her.

The demolition team arrives and her father asks where Sam is. Mary tells him that she left. Her father says that he thought she would want to see her first building being demolished. Mary is keeping Jimmy calm as they set up and begin to install the explosives. As the countdown begins, Jimmy starts saying "Sam," and then screams her name and runs toward the building. Sam's father tells them to stop the countdown. At the roof, Jimmy looks down, and her father asks what they have done. Jimmy then throws himself over, killing himself, and lands next to Sam. Sam is then lifted out of the hole and put in an ambulance.

Sam narrates that Malestrazza built 27 buildings and that they are all still standing. He considered the Malestrazza building his masterpiece. The building will not be demolished.


The film premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival on 20 February 2009.[2]

The film received a straight-to-DVD release in North America on 17 March 2009.[3][4]

There is also an accompanying graphic novel by the same name produced by Spacedog, published through Ape Entertainment available in April 2009.

It was released by Momentum Pictures on DVD on 5 October 2009 in the United Kingdom.[5]


Because the film has been released straight-to-DVD, it has received limited critical reviews. So far, the film has garnered a mixed reaction. DVD Talk rated the film 3/5 stars, praising the performances of the cast and the effectiveness of the low budget, though the review concluded that the film deserved a stronger conclusion.[6] The film was rated 5/10 by IGN and had conflicting accounts of the performances of the cast, describing Barton as "terrific" and Bright as "wooden."[7] Real Movie News described the film as "atmospheric" and "attractive" but questioned the confused identity of the film.[8]

The British magazine FemaleFirst gave the film 4 out of 5 stars. They described it a "psychological horror that’s sure to send chills down your spine" and continued to refer to it as a "gritty Mirrors meets Captivity horror thriller will have your heart pounding in your ears."[5]


  1. ^ "Mischa Barton Gets Walled In". Empire Movies. 2007-11-09. 
  2. ^ Walled In Glasgow Film Festival
  3. ^ Mischa Barton’s Walled In going straight to DVD Mischa news
  4. ^ Walled In UHM
  5. ^ a b Walled In DVD FemaleFirst. 8 September 2009
  6. ^ Walled In DVD Talk. 17 March 2009
  7. ^ Walled In DVD Review IGN. 16 March 2009
  8. ^ Walled In DVD Review Real Movie News. 19 March 2009

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