Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Vampires: Brighter in Darkness – review

Director: Jason Davitt

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

When it comes to gay interest horror films/TV series the bar is, unfortunately, generally set rather low. For instance, whilst the Lair is fun, in a guilty pleasure way, it loses itself in its own campness and its acting is disappointing. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, as the excellent Bite Marks evidenced.

The reason I mentioned both TV and films is because Vampires: Brighter in Darkness started life as a TV series – of which I caught one or two episodes but missed watching the whole production. It has now been cut into a feature (though in honesty, its two hour running time could have done with some more judicial cutting as it is overlong). Unfortunately it is so low budget that it genuinely struggles and some of the effects would have been better missed out altogether.

Lilith the dark Goddess
It begins in 500 AD and Lucas Delmore (Rhys Howells) approaches his people’s dark goddess, Lilith (Abigail Law-Briggs), looking for a means to avenge his family – killed by the vandals. His dress seems Roman (though his hair seems salon styled) but, for some reason, his companions’ dress involves skirt and cape with no shirt. Eye-candy for the target audience, no doubt, but silly overall. Lilith is a vampire Goddess and she feeds on Lucas whilst two vampires indulge in his companions. They then feed the men their blood (Lucas drinking from the Goddess herself). His companions are not strong enough, fail to turn and die (perhaps the lack of shirt caused them to catch a cold and thus zapped their strength, who knows).

Charlotte and Toby later in the film
In his voice-over he tells us that he has lived with a cold heart, until now. The subject of his ardour is on a computer screen and is called Toby Brighter (Dan Briggs) – Brighter in darkness… get it… Toby’s sister Charlotte (Rebecca Eastwood) and his friends have set him up on a blind date with Lucas. Can I take this moment to point out the supremely bad acting from Rebecca Eastwood, it was truly awful. Never mind, she isn’t the focus (though she does come into the film later on). Lucas and Toby meet, Lucas has paid for the whole restaurant (which actually seems to be a church hall) and they get on really well. Toby wants to take things slow though – he has only recently come out of a relationship (with Paul (Tim Benge) who declared himself straight and ran off with a barmaid).

James MacCorkindale as Anthony
When Toby gets home he is accosted by Lucas, who eye mojos him, makes him invite him in and then eye mojo’s a heavy make out session ending with a bite. Suddenly Lucas is at the door and the date rapist (for essentially that is what he is) shapeshifts into Anthony (James MacCorkindale) – Lucas’ former lover who is clearly psychotically jealous. Toby manages to give a further invitation to the real Lucas, who then manhandles Anthony out and feeds the dying Toby his blood.

Lucas and Toby
Now I think the biggest issue I had with the two main characters in the film began here. They have only just met and yet Lucas is so sure of everlasting love he breaks an edict that he (as he has the blood of the Goddess) cannot create a vampire without permission. Toby, who has been violated and turned into the living dead, is rather quick to declare his love (though he has fleeting moments of doubt at this point in the film). It’s a shame as the two actors generated a believable chemistry that fought against the unbelievable plot point. However, as it is the lynchpin of the entire film we must work past that.

CGI Scorpions
Storywise; Lilith returns, having been centuries absent – with a plan to merge with demonkind and wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Anthony wants to split the two lovers apart and turns the conveniently appearing (and gay again) Paul to help him with his plan. Thus Lucas and Toby must contend with demons, rubbish cgi giant scorpions, equally rubbish cgi vampiric demon bats and spurned lovers as they look for a way to stop Lilith.

astral sparkles
Lore wise the vampires move quickly, can teleport (but not over large expanses of water), turn to mist and are incredibly strong. They have reflections and can walk in sunlight – though they do need invitations into a home or they are powerless. They can only be killed by being drained of blood or beheaded. At one point Anthony has his heart plucked out of his chest, seems to die in smoke and then be dead upon the floor and then is suddenly stood, as right as rain, and bragging about his acting skills. Lucas, who has buggered off for a bit, intercepts Toby in spirit form and does sparkle before commanding the young vampire to sleep. One of the vampires is also an incubus and seems to suck energy and there is a bloodstone (which is a rock with some fake blood on it) that will bestow great power on those who drink its essence.

Rhys Howells as Lucas
The dialogue wasn’t brilliant and I think they missed a trick as the two leads were the best thing about this but the episodic nature of the story (a hangover from the TV series genesis of the film), some risible dialogue, bad acting from supporting roles and truly terrible cgi prevent it reaching its potential. A character driven story focusing on the two leads would have worked better, and whilst its potential might not have been great enough to make it a cult favourite it would certainly have been better than it was. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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