Sunday, November 22, 2009

Loved Ones – review


Director: Shawn Cain

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

Edit: I have recieved a comment from Shawn - presumably Cain - asking me to take the still shots down. Stills are used for illustrative purposes only in respect of the review. To quote US law, as that is where Mr Cain is: "17 U.S.C. § 107

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

1.the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2.the nature of the copyrighted work;

3.the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4.the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."

The US law is actually based on the UK precedents - and so the point stands in my own country. As Taliesin Meets the Vampires is non-profit making (believe you me) and the use of stills was limited to one per para (4 of which illustrated the poor direction and technical ability; video interference and cameramen in shot and failure to focus the camera) I could try to weather the storm and refuse.

But hey, clearly this is because they make the film look as bad as it is and I really can't be bothered argueing over this. I do this blog for fun and to pass my thoughts on films and books to my readers. I just kind of wish I hadn't removed the first comment, that would have been interesting. Anyway, Mr Cain despite the fact that there was no legal reason for me to do so (and your comment was barely in English) your stills are removed. On with the review (the substance of which has not changed):

Never judge a book by its cover… perhaps wise words but the entire point of cover art, for books and DVDs, is to sell them as a product. In this Loved Ones is successful as I was very taken by the cover. It had a classy air that promised much of the indie film within. The failure to deliver on that promise was spectacular.

As you know, I like to go through the plot (or at least the first part of the plot) of a film. It is difficult, however, when a film meanders away with little meaning and less direction. Instead we will play spot the camera-person as we drag ourselves through a mire of poor acting and worse dialogue. Indeed things go wrong early on, as the opening credits role. Nothing wrong with the graphics used for the credits and the music is suitably dramatic and then we get the interference, some sort of sound glitch that makes you think someone has stuck nails into your speakers and is ripping their electronic heart out. Thankfully this is only over the credits.

We begin with an art gallery and none of the work created by the artist Tim Garner (Mike Ricker) has sold. He goes on about how he painted one piece blindfolded. Elsewhere there is a negotiation over wine distribution for wine (which generously might have been a cover for getting produce to the vampire community, but this is not actually explained) produced by Serbia (Larry Laverty). Serbia, we later discover is a doctor, runs a nursing home that may, or may not, be sinister and is leader of the vampires. Here was a still of a wine cellar.

A man walks into a bar (and yes I wish it was the start of a joke). He is Taw Jones (Stefano Capone). Two robbers come and try to hold the place up and he takes the shotgun from one whilst another man, Tony (Neil D’Monte), takes down the other. They clearly have no luck except bad luck, as they are trying to rob a place full of off-duty cops celebrating Taw’s retirement. Tony wears a t-shirt with Vlad Tepes on it; I don’t think it meant anything in the greater scheme of the ‘plot’. Here was a still of an actor.

Garner is also in the bar and, following some of the worst acted pick-up lines in some time, is off with a vampire woman who bites him. When he awakens in the morning he will have been turned. Meanwhile Taw doesn’t know what to do with himself. His wife, Beth (Kellee Brandise), still works and retirement (and daytime TV) are not sitting well. He phones the precinct – they had a sweepstake on that. Here was a still of a bite.

As it is he sees a man going over to a neighbour’s for some extra-marital fun. Then a vampire heavy, called Mr Tingle (Shawn Cain), comes along and attacks him. Taw intervenes and the resultant fight has some really odd moments as there is lined interference over the video that makes this almost unwatchable – as well as rain splatter on some of the camera angles. Seriously, in respect of the interference, I don’t know why it went wrong or why they left it in. Anyway, Serbia comes along and offers Taw a job as head of security. Taw goes to see him the next day, for some reason doesn’t like what he sees – perhaps his cop senses are tingling – and turns the job down. He is attacked and turned. Here was a still that was simply interference.

This gets Tony and fellow officer Gus (Chuck Williams) on the case looking for their erstwhile colleague, who then turns up and, following a vision sequence about Tony and Gus fighting vampires, bites and turns his wife and, in case you're wondering, this is what I can gather is going on…. Serbia is mainstreaming the vampires and (according to the DVD case, because it wasn’t at all explained in exposition) has found a way to curb bloodlust. Taw has been turned as Serbia has decided he will be the next great vampire leader. Garner is going to rebel against Serbia as he won’t live without being free, but the rebellion will be half-assed and pointless. By the way, it turns out that Gus is really a secret vampire hunter and has been for years. Then throw in a vampire ritual with some robes and some naked boobs added into film for no adequately explored reason. Here was a still with a camera man in shot.

You see there is a lot, poorly scripted, going on to little purpose – we’ll get to some of the more amusing dialogue lines later. I could have handled the amateur level acting, had there been a worthwhile point but this drags its self slowly forward whilst having no real point whatsoever. Worse is that it is clear that, beyond poor lighting and unfortunate framing, the director couldn’t have cared about quality. The video interference in the fight is not the only quality glitch. Boom mikes are often in shot and the appearance of camera crew happens more than once – one in the screenshot with this paragraph and look closely at the screenshot of the vampire ritual again (sorry, you can't do that now, but take my word for it - the cameramen were there). The dialogue often fades into the background and perhaps that is as well. Here was a still of another scene with the camera man in shot.

I mentioned some of the lines. Garner attacks a random girl as he is hungry, she is on the floor, he is over her and the interchange goes like this. Girl: “Please don’t kill me.” Garner: “I have to.” Girl: “Look at me…” Garner: “No.” Girl: “If you spare my life I’ll be forever devoted to you.” Now bear in mind he might just be a mugger, a rapist or a murderer, she doesn’t know at that point that he is a vampire (not that such a revelation should matter, she is still being attacked). Be that as it may, as an outcome to the scene he bites, feeds her his blood and then runs off; for her part she stands and then looks around as though waiting for instruction to exit stage left. Another cracking line, later in the film, is, “The time has come to become what we are capable of becoming.” Here was a still of a vampire attack.

If it sounds like I am being cruel… I’m sorry, but I am just being honest; technical glitches, bad shot framing and equally bad lighting, amateur acting and poor dialogue with no real story direction does not equal me spending hard earned money on a DVD. There really wasn’t a saving grace (except the DVD cover). Here was another still that was out of focus.

Lore wise, again we have little. These vampires can go out in daylight and a blood exchange is needed to turn another. A stake through the heart will kill a vampire and bullets will not. That said, having emptied nine bullets into a vampire to no effect, using handcuffs as a set of brass knuckles (and somehow not breaking your own knuckles) will cause said vampire to run away promising that you’ll be got next time. Here was a still of a staking.

All in all I am struggling to score this at all, but as there are things out there genuinely worse and more offensive… I’ll give this 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Taliesin_ttlg said...

To the anonymous poster who left a comment - I appreciate what you were saying but there was included some serious allegations iro Shawn Cain that, without evidence, it is difficult for me to keep published; simply because it may leave me legally vulnerable.

It is with a heavy heart, therefore, that I have deleted the comment as I hate to censor in such a way.

Anonymous said...

take down my stills, This is Shawn Cain Films this is copyright issue