Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Fanged Up – review

Director: Christian James

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

This one almost snuck out but I spotted it just before its UK release. A horror comedy set in a prison (fanged up = banged up, geddit?) with vampires and hailing from the UK it seems to be a vehicle for comedian Daniel O'Reilly who co-wrote the film. Problem is, it just wasn’t that funny.

Now I know comedy is very subjective (I often put that with reviews) but it wasn’t just that the comedy was off (for me) but that they forgot that, at least on a simplistic level, you should make your primary protagonist sympathetic; and this wasn’t sophisticated enough to do anything more radical with that character.

Daniel O'Reilly as Jimmy
It starts with Dr Wallace (Arron Crascall) running for his life, with a set of papers in his arm. He reaches an ambulance, gets in but can’t get it to start and is even more terrified when a figure emerges from the mist. He climbs into the back of the ambulance and tries to call Dr Katie Makepeace (Danielle Harold) as something grabs him. Meanwhile Jimmy Ragsdale (Daniel O'Reilly) is acting larger than life in Club Moist (though most dismiss him), he offers to get a drink for two women, saying it is his club, but he is actually a pot washer and gets himself fired and starts a fight.

Jimmy and Victor
At the police station he is being booked in when one of the coppers notices something and takes over the booking process. Suddenly Jimmy is going to Stokesville Prison for the weekend, on remand, pending seeing the judge Monday. When transported, the thuggish necrophiliac being taken to a different prison pales at the mention of Stokesville and the driver is just as scared. Jimmy is dropped off into the care of Ms Renfield (Lauren Socha) and put in a cell with Russian mafia type Victor (Stu Bennett). As they go through the block to the cell we see a shower having blood mopped away and notice that the chapel is sealed and off limits.

Danielle Harold as Katie
Katie is now working at the prison and she is checking Bob (Ewen MacIntosh) who has a bite that oozes green slime but he can’t recall who bit him. He starts getting physically more poorly right before her eyes but is suddenly dragged away by guards and Katie is summoned to see Governor Payne (Steven Berkoff, Dead Cert). Before she gets there, Ms Renfield spots the cross Katie wears and makes her remove it – under pretence of no jewellery in the workplace. Payne, we notice, has very long nails and enjoys a Bloody Mary. As she leaves, Katie points out to Renfield that a cupboard is glowing.

vampire screw
So, short and long of it. Katie is Jimmy’s ex. The glow came from a stone that glows green at the “time”. What it was time for was not really well explained but involves the head vampire mating with the “chosen” pure one in a ritual that will renew his strength. The stone glows red when next to the chosen and Katie bears an uncanny likeness to the Governor’s long-lost love. All the prisoners are there because they have AB negative blood and no next of kin. Knowing that the ritual is at hand Renfield orders the prison guard vampires to turn the strong and feed on the weak.

after the staking
The vampires (or zombies, Jimmy guesses, and then guesses Draculas – which was meant to be a joke I guess but to me is just another example of Dracula becoming a genus) can be killed by head removal or stake to the heart. Bob reappears in a guard uniform and attacks Katie and Jimmy. Jimmy stakes him in the groin – it is Katie who gets the heart. On staking the vampire explodes showering blood everywhere. Vampires react badly to religious objects, hallowed ground and holy water (which Katie is able to bless for no explained reason, I bet characters in other films wished they knew it was that easy to make holy water). A bite is enough to turn when the individual dies, what the vampires do to prevent the weaker ‘food’ turning isn’t shown.

off limits chapel
My issue with this started with the character of Jimmy, Daniel O'Reilly played him a bit stupid and very annoying and – because the character was *that* annoying – the viewer carried no sympathy for him. Worse, I just didn’t find him funny as a character. Not that every performance was bad, Vas Blackwood (Cryptic) was magnificently understated and nuanced as the really pleasant con Shifty, indeed his was the highlight performance, but there were some genuinely poor ones in there.

Steven Berkoff as Gov. Payne
I don’t have much more to say – you could see a twist coming from ten-miles out but not because they telegraphed it more that it was so clichéd that you feared (rightly) they’d go there. There’s a bucket of blood thrown in but no barrel of laughs – a definite issue for a comedy. However less than 3.5 out of 10 would be churlish I think. The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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