Friday, May 18, 2007

The Hamiltons – review

DVD

Directed by: The Butcher Brothers

Release Date: 2006

Contains spoilers

I owe you a big apology. You see this film has a twist and by dint of the fact that I’m reviewing it I have already given the twist away – the Hamiltons are vampires. Yet I knew this myself before watching the film and it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of it and so I hope it won’t spoil yours. As the twist is one of the main features of the film, I considered not reviewing the film – but it was so enjoyable I couldn’t ignore it.

The other reason I considered not reviewing the film was because of a lack of conventional story to explain to you, what we get is a coming of age film, with a psycho horror overlay, that examines a slice of life for the period the dysfunctional family are in one particular town. A slice of life has no real beginning, middle and end it is a moment in time and, in many respects, that is what we get here. Certain storylines are not followed through because life is not so neat.

David and WendellThe parents of the family are dead and eldest brother David (Samuel Child) had to sell the farm and since then they have moved from town to town, always followed by trouble. David, as well as holding the family together and working in an abattoir, has a propensity for picking up homosexuals, sleeping with them and then killing them.

The twinsThen there are the twins Wendell (Joseph McKelheer) and Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens) who are clearly incestuous and have a darker attitude than the other family members. It is because of their habit of losing control and attacking those who are both going to be missed and traceable that the family have been forced to move from town to town.

Cory Knauf as FrancisThe film is centred on Francis (Cory Knauf), sensitive, troubled and not fitting in as he feels that he is not like the rest of the family. During the film he actually befriends a kidnapped girl, Sam (Rebekah Hoyle), who is held terrified in the basement and also records the comings and goings of his family on a camcorder for a school project. It is Francis who is the central figure in the, somewhat twisted, coming of age story.

victim in the basementWhilst the upper house may look like picket fence America, the basement is a place of torture, with victims trussed up and gagged and a thing locked away, referred to as Lenny (Nicholas Fanella, voiced by Nicole Storkson). As I have spoiled the main twist I won’t spoil the Lenny twist.

The vampire lore is quite sparse, as it is only hinted at during the majority of the film. As the parents are dead we know they can die – though we do not know how. We know they are born not created and are natural creatures. We know they require blood to live on and that human food can make them ill – after a dinner with the social worker Francis ends up puking the food up. appearance of fangsWe also discover that they do have fangs. This is subtly hinted at early on, Francis poking his eye teeth with his tongue as though willing them to appear, and at the end of the film we do see them. They keep victims in the cellar and drain them medically, but they are also want to physically attack and the smell of fresh blood attracts them. It seems that their father had a level of control that the kids do not possess.

the handiwork of the twinsThe film itself hints at gore, more than shows it, though there is some. There is perhaps an over-reliance on playing with camera techniques but it didn’t effect my enjoyment. Some of the peripheral characters are not that well acted but the family themselves are portrayed in a highly competent way.

Bottom line, whilst this is far from a conventional movie it is an enjoyable (in a horror sense) movie – so long as you are not looking for complicated plot and are content to voyeuristically observe this strange and homicidal family. As I watched I was reminded of the Romero film “Martin” though it was a feel and nothing to do with content.

just before drainingThe film was obviously independent and filmed on a tight budget but a film doesn’t have to be a high budget blockbuster to be good. Independent filmmakers take note – this is how you make a great film with very little. Great little idea and a genuine labour of love this gets 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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