Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Otaku Vampires – review

Director: Christopher Wesley

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

Otaku is a Japanese word meaning a young person who is obsessed with popular culture (the word has become synonymous with anime and manga) to the detriment of their social skills. It is, essentially, a culture specific version of a nerd.

Now, nothing wrong with being a nerd and whilst Otaku Vampires flirts within the nerd culture, and derives its comedy from there, it does so sympathetically. Unfortunately, the film itself is weak.

the vampire approaches
It begins in a graveyard and a groundskeeper finds a bottle and bemoans the recently opened school and the troublesome kids. A cloaked figure approaches, communicating with him telepathically. The vampire, Terra (Christina Lambert), grabs him and feeds from him. We see very little but hear slurping noises. Indeed, the outdoor night shots are not the best filmed in the world. Whilst things are semi-visible the lighting seems non-existent.

Lora and Stanley
Ollie Otaku (Daniel Land) runs a radio show on campus and has an anime club, more than that he has an inflated ego. Nevertheless, new student Lora (Rachel Scott) has picked up a flyer. She meets her boyfriend Stanley (Tom Shelley) who deferred two years to go to school with her, likes to play video games and has no clue about what he wants to do in the school. Theirs is, we discover, a chaste relationship. Lora gets him to go with her to the anime club.

gone emo
Whilst she befriends Ami (Kelby Tienken) – a yaoi fan, yaoi being gay romance/sexual manga – we see Ollie’s sidekicks Dale (Nicholas Maertz) and Davis (Daniel Robers). Stanley befriends girl gamer Willow (Caitlin Drance) and porn addict Pierson (David DeVita). Terra is hunting on campus and sees Lora fall, helps her up and decides to seduce her. Stanley sees Lora drift away, starts a rivalry with Ollie and is then dumped and turns emo before realising what has happened and goes to save her.

an anime fan vampire
There is a concept of a vampire society within the film that isn’t explored (it is really introduced in the epilogue) but we do discover that Terra is a svengal (or so it sounded like) – a master vampire. The turn rules are not explained but some seem to be bitten and die and others are bitten then turn. Those turned are slaves to the svengal. Using blood and energy, a svengal can create another of her kind – that’s what she wants to do to Lora – but she does make some of the anime class thrall vampires.

staked vampire
Staking works – but the wood must be aspen. When this occurs we get a splash of cgi blood and then a ham fisted explosion done through post-production effect. Vampires can regenerate limbs, can be killed by a spirit sword, seem to avoid daylight (though nothing is done with that) and a vampire in thrall to the svengal can break away from them through sheer force of will.

Christina Lambert as Terra
The problems I had with this were many and varied. I mentioned the outdoor night shots – and they were better than some budget films but not brilliant. The acting was, generally, amateurish. There were sound inconsistencies and the effects looked pretty darn cheap. Many of the gags were college humour (though that probably fit the location). Some sequences were too long – the Stanley Emo one could have been mostly expunged and the gag still work as well as the segue into the next story phase, for instance.

All in all, I just didn’t click with this. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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