Thursday, June 07, 2012

My Babysitter’s a vampire (pilot film) – review

Director: Bruce McDonald

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

This was a pilot kid’s film that later spawned a TV series and, as for the plot, the clue is in the title! That does it a slight disservice but is actually pretty much true. But to be fair lets break the one sentence synopsis down a little.

Ethan (Matthew Knight) and Benny (Atticus Dean Mitchell) are boys about to enter high school for the first time and, as the show begins, Ethan is supposed to be watching his little sister Jane (Ella Jonas Farlinger). She is sat watching a film in the Dusk series (or, potentially, a trailer for the up-coming Dusk 3: Unbitten) and they are goofing off in the kitchen.

Sparkles in Dusk
The film Dusk 3 plays a central part in the plot and the Dusk series is an imitation Twilight series, including vampires who sparkle. The film is portrayed as having the same sort of fanatical teen-girl fan base called Duskers and the parody is obvious: of course this pilot is aimed at the same demographic. Jane hears something outside and faces a bully whose playing hockey at their garage door. He punts her teddy but when she goes to get it something swoops and gets him. Only a shoe remains and she screams, just as mom (Laura de Carteret, Lost Girl) and dad (Ari Cohen, also Lost Girl) get home.

the cool kids are vamps
As a result, the next time they go out there has to be a babysitter as Ethan can’t be trusted. The original babysitter is meant to be Erica (Kate Todd), a bit of a geeky Dusker girl, who Benny has a crush on. Ethan has a run in (literally, with a plate of food) with her friend Sarah (Vanessa Morgan). Sarah has been a bit distant from Erica, with whom she is meant to be organising the Dusk 3 preview, since she got a new boyfriend, Jesse (Joe Dinicol). Jesse is part of the drama club, portrayed as cool kids who wear black… hmmm…

rat diet
Yes Jesse is the head vampire and Sarah is a fledgling – she hasn’t fed yet. When Erica goes off with Jesse and his friends to a party, Sarah ends up (in order to hide from him) as the replacement babysitter. As a fledgling she has a patchy reflection, drinks animal blood – in her case rats – and will die if she doesn’t feed from a human in so many days. She wants to save her friend and the boys discover their dorky friend Rory (Cameron Kennedy) has gone to the party.

Ethan has visions
Add to that that Ethan starts having visions of Jesse’s plans. We discover later that Jesse was a vampire priest whose 219 vampire followers were killed by the locals. Jesse wants to get a device, the Cubile Animus, and sacrifice 219 souls into it to resurrect his flock. We also discover that Ethan is a seer and Benny is a spellcaster – a fact revealed by Benny’s Grandma (Joan Gregson), an earth priestess.

death by magic dagger
Other vampire lore in the series includes a slightly confused sunlight lore, in that they can walk in sunlight but it is an irritant, however UV tubes damage them (I guess the thought was that they are more intensive, but that wasn’t actually explained). Holy water burns and (in a sprinkler system) can be quite devastating. A stake through the heart (or a pencil fired in a nerf projectile) will kill and Grandma gives them some handy magic daggers that will kill a vampire with a single slice. Vampires must be invited in, they are very strong and can float/fly.

death by holy water
The film was okay, for the target audience at least. The two male leads seemed personable enough to carry things through and the vampires seemed cool but ultimately were there to lose. Just as well really for, as well as making Twilight a target in the form of Dusk, they also brought a vampire/drug simile into the show (Rory is bitten and when they next see him he is a full vampire – and still a dork – when they ask him if he drank blood his defence is that all the other kids were doing it).

It is not particularly taxing for the adults who might watch it and the Twilight parody aspect is, of course, like shooting fish in a barrel. But bearing in mind the target audience it probably deserves 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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