Friday, June 29, 2007

Guest Review – The Hamiltons

Leila’s Vampire Movies is down at the moment, and will be for a little while at least. Leila had just completed a review of The Hamiltons, a film about to get Region 2 release and one that I reviewed from the region 1 edition.

As a little treat for you all, I am happy to host Leila’s review. Feel free to do a compare and contrast on our thoughts – Leila purposefully didn’t read my review so as not to be at all influenced. Without further ado:

The Hamiltons (USA, 2007)

Running Time: 87 minutes
Video Certificate: 18
Directed By: The Butcher Brothers
Starring: Cory Knauf, Samuel Child, Joseph McKelheer, Mackenzie Firgens
Genre:Horror/Slasher/Teen Drama
Themes: Vampire Family/Incest/Dysfunctional Family/Rite of Passage

Tag line:

"Every Family Has Secrets..."

"Meet the Neighbours from Hell..."

Review [Includes Spoilers!!!]:

The story of the Hamiltons follows Frances (Cory Knauf) the youngest of four teenagers trying to cope with the world after their parents recent death. The head of the family is David (Samuel Child), and then their are also the gothic twins Wendell (Joseph McKelheer) and Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens). Frances finds himself increasingly alone since David is wrapped up with his perceived responsibilities and the twins only seem to need each other.

The audience follows Frances' multi-layered rite of passage as he deals with his grief at the death of his parents, genuine teen concerns of growing up, as well as how to cope with the physical changes he is undergoing. Cory Knauf manages to pull off the confusion and anger wonderfully, avoiding the whiny stereotype to become a really sympathetic protagonist, torn between normality and his unusual "family."

The other three members of the family are equally well developed. Twins hot-headed Wendell and goth Darlene with their incestuous erotic games are just fantastically twisted. When they play dare, double dare with one of Darlene's friends the action really hots up, managing to be sexy and yet never explicit.

Then there's David. At first the eldest sibling seems the most uninteresting character; staid responsible, dull, almost a cardboard cut out and yet this changes when the twins finally push him too far… David's explosion when it happens is well worth waiting for.

Much of the action is filmed through the lens of Frances' video camera, as he is recording a school project about his family. The story unfolds like a documentary, teasing the audience and revealing snippits as it goes along. This is a really effective technique and keeps the viewer on edge and unsure until the very end.

The Hamiltons is a unique addition to the horror genre. From the earliest scene of a female victim in some kind of basement, it plays like the old 70's Slasher films, gritty, raw, dark and unrelenting. However as soon as you meet the family it moves beyond mere convention and into the realms of teen drama and almost black comedy. The characters make this film and elevate it beyond being just another Texas Chainsaw Massacre clone. Refreshingly shot from the perspective of the villains so to speak, the film portrays the family in a very human light, and yet at the same time manages to get across the horrific nature of their actions.

Clearly a labour of love this film is to me what independent movies are all about. It has fantastic characters, a good story, decent script and it also makes the most of its very small budget. I actually feel quite guilty for reviewing this, because by having The Hamiltons on a site like this gives away the shock ending about what the family really are and it is quite a shock, because for most of the film you really have no idea what's coming.

Six Feet Under meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hamiltons has a great twist and will certainly appeal to fans of the classic Slasher films and anyone looking for a dark modern take on the vampire genre. An impressive debut indeed.

Release Info: UK DVD release date July 2nd 2007

Review by Leila Anani

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