Saturday, August 03, 2019

B Negative – review

Director: Philip Codd

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

This is an English film – modestly crowd funded I believe – and is a comedy but therein lies the rub I’m afraid. The concept was good but, for me, the primary cast didn’t necessarily have the comic chops to pull it off. That said, comedy is very subjective and it certainly wasn’t the worst vampire comedy out there. But what is it about?

Well in many ways it is about an existential crisis – the question of why we are here and what our purpose is. For Barry (Jack Lee) that seems to be coming to a head.

in the clinic
Barry is in a fertility clinic with girlfriend Kate (Louise Willoughby) and, if his embarrassed responses and giggles are anything to go by, he is a tad immature. They have had the fertility treatment pathway described to them and Barry is to go back in later in the week to give a sample for a sperm count. He tells his woes to his dentist, Alfred (Paul Diver), who also seems to be his best friend. He mentions that the shine has worn off, when it comes to sex, after three years together.

in the club
At home Kate comes across as a bit of a shrew (an unfair assessment, it turns out, as the film allows actress Louise Willoughby room to spread her wings later but a fair assessment early on). Barry does not work (she does) and seems more interested in going out than spending time with her. He indeed does go out – with Alfred. Whilst out Alfred mentions that he is a club member (the Ancient Order of Nocturnal Immortal Phlebotomists of Albion) – a club that is dying out through lack of new membership – Barry wants to go and see what it’s all about.

Alfred's fangs
There is an embarrassing moment in the clinic where Barry can’t say what magazine he wants, to help give his sample (the receptionist listing the titles available is actually one of the most genuinely funny moments of the film), and then can’t perform. He goes to the club and asks to join but then discovers that the club members are vampires (Alfred uses factor 50 during the day). These vampires are a little different though – in that they are all B negative and have contracted a virus that targets that group. They say they need to feed off B negative only and the type is rare (in real life just 2% of the population are B negative).

Jack Lee as Barry
Because he isn’t B negative, they aren’t interested in feeding from him (and they only need a small amount of blood with large feeding gaps) but he offers to help drum up new membership (and donors) by making cheesy jingles and a social media campaign. His desire to become a vampire – denied because of his blood type – becomes more acute when he discovers that it is he with the fertility problem. This is our existential crisis – he decided his purpose was to live on through his kids, that denied he wants immortality. They find obscure rules for turning for him – tasks that he can’t or won’t fulfil (from suicide to bestiality, the lists are all either more traditional folkloric triggers or designed to sound like them).

vampire council
Alfred and he soon fall out and he becomes jealous of Kate, who is B negative it turns out. A bit more about the vampires – they are tea-total, at least until Barry drives Alfred to drink, and vegetarian when not imbibing blood (or that chapter of vampires are). It takes at least two bites to transmit the virus, it is intimated that the virus can be passed to other blood groups and they are just snobby. Crosses don’t work (though there must be something supernatural if the tasks will turn someone) and garlic is a cultural divide between chapters of vampires.

Louise Willoughby as Kate
I mentioned Louise Willoughby as Kate and, when she was given space to stretch as an actress, she really did shine. A lot of the other performances were a tad stagy – but it suited the vampires who were kind of lost in a time warp. The weak link to me was Barry, for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t find the character (or performance) particularly funny and it might be for want of a straight man to bounce off (to a degree). Alfred was not that foil – the antagonism was too strong too quick. Secondly, I just didn’t like the character, I’m afraid, his immaturity garnered no sympathy. On a technical level, I was impressed with the photography for a budget film.

Ailsa Oliver as Pops
There were some nice ideas and some ideas that could have stood exploration a bit more. It wasn’t the worst vampire comedy but it didn’t make me laugh particularly. The film had enough to keep me watching, however, but more casual watchers (rather than a vampire fan) might be quicker to turn away. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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