Friday, September 14, 2018

Vamp or Not? All the Devils are Here

This is a 2014 film by Ryan Lightbourn and when I put it on I wasn’t expecting to do a ‘Vamp or Not?’, I was content to be watching a mid-range creature feature/Evil Dead/kids find themselves at a deadly cabin type flick. A little film with which to while away the hours. Next thing I know the damn thing (which had started to look like a zombie/outbreak film) is mentioning vampires and I’m having to screenshot and think about the (admittedly clichéd) plot.

So, it starts with a couple of cops transporting prisoners and they’ve hit someone with their truck. Jenkins (John Russo, Minutes Past Midnight) goes to radio it in whilst the other, Bridges (Reggie Peters), checks the rather messy victim for a pulse. Said victim rubs gunk into the cop’s face – who shoots him. There is movement in the woods and Jenkins goes to investigate and doesn’t come back. Something goes for Bridges who opens the van before being got. The prisoners Tre (Doo-Doo Brown) and Brody (John Pelkey) make good their escape.

the Mysterious Old Man
We have a brief meeting with Owen (Ben Owen, also Minutes Past Midnight), his girlfriend Kate (Ansley Gordon), her college friend Evan (Tommy Goodman) who she invited along (and who Owen has decided he dislikes), Owens’ friend Kyle (Ben Evans, also Minutes Past Midnight) and Kyle’s girlfriend Amy (Amanda Dela Cruz). These college kids are going to a cabin owned by Owen’s parents. But enough about them because the cops have just picked up a Mysterious Old Man (John Archer Lundgren, also Minutes past Midnight), found naked in the woods, and handed him over to nurse Sheryl (Erica White). She lets him get cleaned up and he finds that his hair is coming out in gloopy amounts and his teeth are falling out too. She comes back in and he attacks…

the kids arrive
So, we get to the cabin, the kids have a good time – bar the antagonism of Evan by Owen, who is convinced the former wants to sleep with Kate – much drink is had and mushrooms – though Evan is convinced he can hear something out in the woods. In the morning Owen and Kyle have gone to a store to get supplies before the others awaken. They find themselves in a hold up, as Tre and Brody are there. Also Sheryl is outside, milky eyed and acting odd. Store owner Kenny (Dale DaBone) turns the situation around and suggests that the sheriff has warned that Sheryl has a form of rabies. They try sneaking out the back with the two cons as prisoners. Now, Sheryl looks zombified and rabies is a go-to for zombie and vampire movies.

a nightwalker
So, what is going on. Well we later hear of a native American legend about an evil that wishes to wipe out humanity. Their bite contains a venom that turns the victim into one of them. So why vampire? Well because the cast keep referring to them as vampires, one even suggesting that someone will turn into a vampire. They also refer to them as bloodthirsty (but that doesn’t necessarily make them blood drinkers, of course). One notable fact is that they are very sensitive when it comes to light and avoid the daylight and bright lights as a result. Right at the end of the film they are referred to as nightwalkers.

the queen
We also discover that they can breed, as well as turn, and we see a nightwalker Queen (Brett P. Carson) birth a fully-grown nightwalker (Charlie Shaw). She is then killed by cops who have investigated the cave they’re in. The reaction of the other nightwalkers is to grab and kidnap a human female (rather than bite her) and they are going to feed her something that will (presumably) transform her into a nightwalker queen also. So, we could arguably say there are purebloods and turned and that the creatures display intelligence.

survival horror
This clearly has as much to do with the zombie genre (though they are not zombies but humans transformed into creatures) as anything else and takes some inspiration from that genre. However, the deliberate use of the V word is telling and the light sensitivity is straight out of that playbook (Sheryl isn’t fully transformed, hence her being out and about in daylight, I assume). In some respects, I am tempted to go down a zompire line, the set up doesn’t feel wholly vamp but the filmmakers were definitely flirting with the genre and its tropes. Possibly a tad more genre interest than genre. The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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