Thursday, October 20, 2016

Blood Reunion 2: Madeline – review

Director: Jim DeVault

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

I reviewed Jim DeVault’s Blood Reunion a little while ago and whilst it wasn’t the greatest film ever made, I did enjoy watching it.

Thus this “sequel” was anticipated as I expected the filmmakers to build on the foundation of the previous film. I put sequel in inverted commas as it is from the same universe as Blood Reunion (and features a family reunion) and I think that the unnamed vampire who triggered the events of the first film is the vampire Morgan Locke (Jim DeVault) from this film. However, beyond that they are unrelated.

Cierra Angelik sd Madeline
So there is a quote from Byron’s the Giaour, then the film moves to a car where a couple are making out as a storm rolls in. The bloke goes down on his woman (Carly Capra) and a young girl, Madeline (Cierra Angelik), appears behind her. She opens the door, pulls the woman out and drags her off before getting him. Two things struck me – the sound was bad, overpowered by incidental sounds, and the lighting wasn’t up to much.

shaky camera
The film’s worst moment of camera work, however, was over the opening credits as the camera tracked a mini driving along. Whether it was an interior shot where the camera tried to hone in on the rear view mirror – and bounced all over the place – or whether it just bounced as it tracked the rear of the car, it was awful camera work. Having been used for the establishing journey – as it were – it set all the wrong tone with the viewer, essentially telling us that this film was truly amateurish.

Bridgette and Victoria
The mini is being driven by Bridgette (Sarah Bell) and, now that her mother is dead, she is going to meet a side of the family she was estranged from. This was plot unimportant except for introducing a character who was initially unaware/ignorant of the other characters. She meets her Aunt Victoria (Lorraine Eubank, Blood on the Highway) and I was struck at how unnatural the dialogue felt between the two and at how Lorraine Eubank failed to make any form of eye contact with Sarah Bell, within the scene, making the exchange look altogether artificial.

Jynx and Bridgette
Anyway in the household for the annual reunion are Victoria’s husband Frank (Kevin Scott Fuller), Victoria’s daughter Jynx (Jessica Willis) and her partner Todd (Joshua Briscoe), Aunt Ethel (Nicole Holt, who was also in Blood on the Highway and played a different character in Blood Reunion) and her letch husband Walter (John Pinder), family friend Gaston (Steven N. Russell) and the household’s servant Martin (Rafeal Enrique Santiago). The fact that the servant was the only black character sent the entirely wrong message, the house they filmed in was – I felt – considerably smaller than the house they pretended it was and a sub plot about a peeper who has drilled a hole into the only bathroom (who just happens to be Martin, sending another negative racial message) went nowhere and was absolutely pointless.

Martin as a vampire
Anyway, Bridgette puts her foot in it by asking about Jynx’ sister and is told she was killed recently by a wild animal. Actually, unbeknown to Ethel and Walter she was turned into a vampire by ancient vampire Morgan Locke and was about to be killed by occult researcher/vampire hunter Gaston but the family intervened. She is now locked in the shed and fed captured animals. Walter stumbles on her and she drinks his blood, kills him and then slips her chains and escapes. We then get a take on Ten Little Indians – with the victims turning into vampires.

Vampire lore is that a stake will stop a vampire, but remove it and the vampire will up and around again. An older vampire can actually pull the stake out themselves, but even a young vampire must be beheaded and cremated to actually kill them. Vampires prey on their loved ones first and a bite causes turning, either straight away or after a short time period, when they die, if the feed is interrupted. Crosses can hold a vampire back – but it isn’t a constant and the vampire really would have had to have been a Christian in life. An older vampire can mojo a mortal, it would seem. Presumably vampires are very strong, as a little girl like Madeline can overpower a large adult male, and if you think too hard about how much blood she must have ingested (she drains several adults) and where it goes, well let’s just say that you’ll be left with questions…

Jim DeVault as Morgan Locke
All in all, this came across as more amateurish than the first film, rather than stepping up the game. The story was essentially Ten Little Indians, as I mentioned, but raises questions about the motivation of Morgan Locke that are at least intriguing (and presumably film number 3 will examine those). The staking effects looked quite good, as did the bite effects, given the budget. However, the dialogue was poor at times, the delivery not brilliant and whilst I appreciate they did their best to make do with the locations they had, better outside lighting and camera work – especially over the credits – were most definitely needed. Unfortunately, for me, this takes a step back from the first film. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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