Thursday, March 26, 2015

Honourable Mention: Vampz!

Whilst Vampz! Is available as a just over an hour piece via video on demand, it did start life as a web series and it is still available to view for free on YouTube (you can find the channel here) and so I decided to look at this as an Honourable Mention.

The Ramsey Attia directed series was the focus of a successful kickstarter campaign and starts off with a group of people, intercut for comedic value, talking to the unseen Simone (Lilly Lumière) as she interviews potential roommates. The three we see are Marcus (Ark Octavian), who believes in conspiracies about reptoids, vampires and werewolves, (and the credited as) Spunky Chick (Simi Richardson) and Pervert (Gerard Michael). By the end they all suggest Simone looks like a vampire; “I am a vampire” is her reply.

Lilly Lumière as Simone
Simone is a Goth and vampire wannabe. Her (paternal) twin brother Sam (Louis Bacigalupo) despairs of her. Simone wants to watch Bloodlust but it is on hiatus and Twilight is on in its place. There is someone at the door but when Simone sees cheerleader outfit and sparkly pom-poms she is going to shut the door in the girl’s face. The girl in question is Ashley (Christal Renee) and she is there about the room; Sam is smitten. The best way to describe Simone’s reaction is bitchy. However, Sam points out that she has turned down 32 roommates and the rent is due.

Marcus means business
As soon as her new roommate moves in Simone has a run in with her, taking umbrage at her Twilight poster (Simone has the Lost Boys and 30 Days of Night posters). Within dialogue we suspect that her issues come down to being left behind when friends join cliques but she really does come across as unfriendly. Ashley, on the other hand, whilst ditsy seems to just want to be friends. Meanwhile Marcus, our conspiracy nut, has decided that Simone is a real vampire and, given that he has been hunting them (and other creatures) for years unsuccessfully, decides he will take the Hell spawn out. He gets his very laid back friend Vin (Guy N. Ease) to give him a lift!

vamp face
Simone wakes from a dream of Ashley crawling over the bed to her – believing it to signify that she is becoming lesbian. She hears something and investigates. It is Marcus, replete with stake. He looks to attack her and she cries out that she isn’t a vampire when Ashley comes in to the room and states she is, giving vamp face and attacking the hunter. Of course what they have done is turn the stereotyped characters on their heads and, whilst it was fairly obvious that such a twist was what was going to happen, it still works nicely.

blood on chin
The reactions are interesting, Simone is terrified and then horrified that her “specialness” (the vampire persona she developed) is not so special. When Ashley spaces out (Marcus had taken cocaine and she is affected by the drug in his blood) Simone actually comes around and offers Ashley her own blood (essentially looking to be turned). Ashley is freaked out, not only because of the drug but because she hasn’t bit a person before (it appears she was biting dogs). She doesn’t know much about her condition but is certain that Marcus won’t turn as she has not fed him her blood – that was what happened to her.

Louis Bacigalupo as Sam
The appearance of a drunken Sam complicates matters further. As does the fact that Marcus isn’t actually dead and escapes the house, kidnapping Sam for good measure. He wants Simone to hand over Ashley but the girls then manage to take Van – and Van’s friend Dr Wu (Andrew Chien) – hostage and wants Sam back in return. If that sounds a tad absurd, at the point it happens it works and that is what can be said for the series as a whole. It works.

vampire eyes
That said it isn’t perfect and I felt, when watching it cut into a single feature, that it probably worked better episodically – that perhaps it needed a tad more editing in its long form. The dialogue interaction between Simone and Ashley was also a tad overworked and needed some subtlety adding. However the actors – one and all – did a great job, especially given it’s the first IMDb credit for all of them. I was impressed with the photography, it really showed an awareness of budget restrictions and worked around them.

unflattering picture
One thing I felt was lacking was some exposition. Dr Wu has argyrosis but I never really felt I understood how that came to be – something that, given it meant he had a blue face, should have been more explicit (argyrosis is caused by exposure to silver dust or chemical compounds of silver, however many in the audience would not necessarily know this). Without spoiling too much there is a “puppet master” behind the events (apparently) and this is foreshadowed by Marcus’ dialogue but the reasons why, how it was manipulated and what the person may be isn’t expanded upon. Perhaps that has been saved for a second season but it is frustrating as things stand.

That said, given the low budget and the inexperience of the filmmakers I was impressed with what I saw. The imdb page is here.

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