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Entries in vampires (2)

Wednesday
Aug182010

Vampires Suck

There’s a fine line a critic must walk when reviewing a movie. Acting and directing are important parts of film and a proper critique of those aspects is necessary, but I try not to get personal. While I’ve bashed a number of high profile stars, I try to do so within the context of the film I am analyzing. I have nothing against them as human beings. But when it comes to Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the walking tumors behind some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, including Epic Movie and Disaster Movie, I feel like it would be my duty to punch them in the wiener if I ever came into contact with them. They know damn well what they’re doing and their latest cinematic abortion comes in the form of Vampires Suck, a toxic, brain deadening succubus of a movie that will leave all but the most easily pleased moviegoers with a feeling of despair. If this is what comes off as entertainment these days, surely the end is near.

As expected, Vampires Suck spoofs vampire movies, though “spoof” isn’t really the right word because this isn’t one. This is merely mimicry of the Twilight franchise with farts. It does a better job of following its inspiration than Meet the Spartans or Disaster Movie, which couldn’t even do that, but spoofing Twilight and juvenilely replaying it out are two different things.

But I suppose the biggest problem is that the Twilight franchise practically spoofs itself. New Moon especially, which, by all accounts, is terrible, is so laden with laughs that it puts Vampires Suck to shame. The fact that this plague of a film couldn’t even upend New Moon is just sad.

All Friedberg and Seltzer do is state the obvious, observations that the rest of the world has already caught onto, but they just seem to be figuring out. Tired jokes about Jacob’s obligatory shirtlessness and the Team Edward/Team Jacob feud are all this thing has to offer. Ironically, Vampires Suck bashes Twilight for using its overemotional melodrama as an obvious ploy to grab viewers, as if they have the right to tell anyone they’re being obvious.

If a particular scene is lacking an easy target, these hack jobs get lost and desperately start to reference pop culture, including other movies irrelevant to the very nature of Vampires Suck. “Jersey Shore,” Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, The Black Eyed Peas, “Gossip Girl,” Dear John, Alice in Wonderland, even the Chris Brown/Rihanna beatings all make appearances in various forms.

In spite of all of this, there’s one positive aspect to Vampires Suck: its lead star Jenn Proske, who plays the Bella role. Whereas the other actors merely look similar to their actor counterparts, she perfectly imitates Kristen Stewart, matching her voice and mannerisms to a tee. In a film that harbored even the slightest bit of humor, she would have been fantastic and she deserves recognition, even if the rest of Vampires Suck does not.

The story flows along a similar path to the Twilight films, including the love triangle between the newly named Jacob Black and Edward Sullen (sullen—get it?!), but misses the spoof aspect by a mile. I guess the kindest thing I can say about Vampires Suck is that it lives up to its name. There are plenty of vampires and a whole lot of suck.

Vampires Suck receives 0.5/5

Monday
Jan112010

Daybreakers

There was a time when vampires used to be the epitome of cool. There was a time when Blade ruled the box office with its hard R rating, providing plenty of action and blood for fans. There was a time when vampires weren't reduced to frilly angst ridden teenagers entwined in a romantic love triangle with a self-pitying high school girl and shirtless werewolf. I remember those times. Oh, how I miss them. Vampires used to be scary, stalkers of the night out for the blood of unsuspecting humans. Now they sparkle when they walk in the sun. Thankfully, nay, blessedly, Daybreakers is here to set things straight. While it may be coming at an unfortunate time, in the wake of those silly Twilight movies, it's nevertheless a riotous good time.

The year is 2019. Due to a single bat with a strange virus, a plague of vampirism has spread across the world like a wildfire. Now, less than five percent of the population is human. Everybody else has turned into a demon of the night, but things still run as usual. They still go to work, drink coffee (with blood instead of cream) and drive and the television politics still rage on. The only difference is that they do it all at night and the political arguments are about the extermination of the human race. During the day, the world is one giant ghost town, which proves to be a perfect opportunity for the last remaining humans to venture outside in search of other humans. Edward (not to be confused with that pale skinned, love sick ninny), played by Ethan Hawke, a vampire himself, runs into a group of them one day on his way home from work. Although they threaten to kill him, he has no desire to feed on them and helps them instead. He's one of those human-hugging types. Hippie.

He does this despite a global shortage of blood. In fact, in another few weeks, the last remaining human harvests will dry up and the vampires will all go mad feeding on each other, which will increase the rate of their deterioration until they all finally die. However, those humans have found a cure for vampirism thanks to a former vampire called Elvis, played by Willem Dafoe, and they enlist Edward in their attempt to save not only themselves, but the whole world.

Not since 2000's Shadow of the Vampire, which also starred Willem Dafoe, have I seen such a unique vampire movie. Finally a film comes along that dares to switch up the tried and true formula. It takes the basic concept of vampires feeding on humans and flips it around. What if there were no humans left to feed on? The premise is intriguing and an interesting commentary on our dwindling resources with our growing population. Who knew a bloody horror flick could be so smart?

But then again, it's not like I had my brain tuned to "think" when I sat down to watch Daybreakers. All I really wanted was a slickly done vampire movie with humor and gore and that's what I got. After watching Twilight and New Moon, where the only pain inflicted on anyone was purely on an emotional level, it was nice to see some pain transcend to the physical realm. This thing gets red with some excellent moments I didn't see coming, including a hilarious vampire combustion that had me cackling with glee.

What I came out of Daybreakers surprised about, however, was that the film was actually made well. A horror movie not screened for critics being released in the theatrical dump month of January? There's no way it could be good, right? Wrong. The Spierig brothers, the directors, whose only other feature length film was the 2003 straight-to-DVD horror/comedy Undead (which was pretty damn awesome if you ask me), showcase some skill here. Whereas Undead was fun, but amateur, Daybreakers promises better things to come in the duo's future. It's slyly directed and the little attention to details makes for a pleasurable experience.

Even more impressive is that they wrote the picture as well, toning down their jocular tone from Undead to make a more mature horror/drama. With the sole exception of Willem Dafoe's character, who spouts some really dumb one-liners that feel out of place in an otherwise rock solid picture, the writing is spectacular. It doesn't explain everything, but it doesn't need to. It's not about how it happens. It's merely about what happens and why. Though I fear putting these two films side by side may confuse the levels of their quality, this film is like The Road in that it's more of a warning than anything else. It intends not to show the causes of certain situations, but rather create an allegory revolving around them that can be related to real life.

Now, Daybreakers is no Oscar contender like The Road, but not every movie has to be some amazing display of filmmaking to be entertaining. Despite combining quality acting with a clever script and skillful direction, this is really nothing more than a fun romp at the movies. Given the quality of films usually released in this month, what more could you ask for?

Daybreakers receives 4/5