Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Vampire Resurrection – review

Director: Mark Morris

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

This is in no way related to the 2001 Vampire Resurrection and I really hoped that I was going to get something out of this UK low budget release – at least more than I did its earlier US namesake.

I repeated in my head, “please be good” emulating Dorothy in her plea to get back home but, unlike Dorothy who got back to Kansas, the film never improved in quality – if anything it dropped lower and lower, and, as I say, this is not what I hoped for.

The Angel
It starts with a girl in the woods, Anne (played younger by Eden Quine Taylor), being held by Nick (Gareth Lawrence). She calls for Wraith (Paul Van Beaumont) and Nick shouts for Wraith to come and get her or he knows what he’ll do. They (Wraith and Nick) fight and Wraith (the vampire slayer) is staked and defeated. The dying Wraith calls for Anne to be spared and Nick refuses and so Anne stakes him from behind. He murmurs “Vengeance will be mine” and some likely occult mumblings as Anne enters into some poorly acted histrionics and Wraith dies – until an Angel resurrects him. The acting all round was poor, to be fair, but I hoped – as we jump forward 27 years – that it might improve.

Anna and Jack
So, cutting forward and Anne (played older by Amanda Lara Kay) is telling her teenage son Nathan (Alan Harding) about her time with Wraith as a vampire slayer. Meanwhile husband Jack (Mark Morris) is bringing daughter Jenny (Rachel Pooley) home. Their relationship is clearly sour and she had packed camping gear in his car to sneak off to a music festival. The entire premise of the family dynamic is this – Nathan is the studious son and Jenny the truanting daughter. Jack puts pressure on Nathan to do well, despairs of Jenny and does not believe Anne about her past and dislikes her filling the kids’ heads with nonsense. One questions how they developed a relationship in the first place?

finding the grave
So, the kids sneak off during a family row, stealing Jack's car keys, and go driving off to Lanes End Heath and the woods where Anne killed Nick. They clearly don’t believe their mum and when they see a hooded figure appear and disappear they investigate, finding the grave of the vampire (which is said can never be found) and then leg it. They get home, hammering on the door in fear, with Nathan suggesting that *it* talks to him in his head. Jack’s reaction is to take him to the doctor’s, whilst Anne does nothing, it appears, to intervene on behalf of her son.

into the grave
Nathan starts getting messages on the most inauthentic PC messaging service I think I have seen for some time. He is in conversation with Josh (Adam Lezemore) – a young man who can cure Nathan, he claims. Josh takes him back to the grave, where he slits Nathan’s throat. The vegetation, as well as a hand (clearly in a black glove with bones to look like a skeletal hand), drags him into the earth. We cut to Nathan’s funeral, as viewers we intrude on the parental grief, and then their anguish is intruded on even more by the police, specifically by DCI Woods (David J Biscoe), who takes the parents in for questioning.

mourning Nathan
This leads to a series of questions for the viewer. Firstly, why do the police get involved after the funeral – the body (throat slit and drained of blood) would be held pending investigation and not released for immediate burial? How was the body found? Surely it was in the (apparently hidden) vampire’s grave? We see later that there is an almost immediate bite and turn aspect to the lore (at least when killed, those not killed turn the next nightfall), so how was there a body to bury as he should have turned by then? Why does DCI Woods hate Jack? We know that there is something in their past but the dialogue doesn’t tell us what. Oh and Woods is, apparently, Josh’s dad.

awful looking fangs
There is a quick attack on the family at this point. Anne gets some retired commandos she used to know involved (who have dealt with vampires in Bolivia but are absolutely inept in England) and tries to find Wraith. The focus of the film is Jack who does not believe in vampires. Even when his murdered son returns from the grave and turns his sister (giving her awful looking fangs) Jack refuses to believe and suggests a virus. Again, when off with the commandos, he suggests virus, despite them being armed to the teeth. Even when he is infected and then cured (I won’t spoil how) he only seems to begrudgingly believe. The character’s attitude would lead one to believe that this is a comedy – except everyone appears to be the straight-person and the only laughs are (potentially) unintentional.

I say potentially because, to be honest, one has to assume that the vampire makeup was made intentionally funny… though, with the rest of the tone not being comedic, one worries it was not so. It really is sub-par Halloween party. I have watched other films that have makeup as bad (or worse) and, sometimes, you can zone it out. Suspend disbelief despite it. In this case, however, there was just too much of it. As for the vampire lore – sunlight kills, staking is the way forward along with beheading, and the "experienced" commandos use automatic weapons and are slaughtered for their trouble.

Nick and Wraith
I like to say something positive and some of the night photography was really well done. I’m not too sure about the shot composition but the lighting and actual photography worked really well. The acting was generally atrocious – some of the more stereotyped performances, such as Justin Hayward as the leader of the commandos, worked well enough but other performances fell very short. Mark Morris as the dad worked until the sublime (of his constant denial) transmogrified into the ridiculous, and as the director Morris focused on himself and let the rest of the cast languish. The narrative had gaping holes and character reactions were unrealistic. This needed to be deliberately a comedy, it wasn’t – or if it was meant to be it failed to identify itself as such. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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