Monday, January 22, 2007

Tainted – review

Film PosterDirected by: Brian Evans

Release Date: 1998

Contains spoilers

If you expect that all movies from the Troma stable are going to be gross out B comedies with more gore than you can shake a stick at then this film will prove you wrong. It has a vein of comedy but the comedy is the sort that derives its source from such films as those produced by Kevin Smith.

Indeed the basic premise of the film reads as though Smith might have been involved. After an opening scene where we see a man enter a supermarket where he observes another man, following him until he catches him, overpowers him, chains him to the roof of a car, siphons his blood and then stakes him we meet up with our main ‘Smithian’ protagonists.

The first we meet is Ryan (Greg James)JT and Ryan who is in the process of kicking a girl, he has just slept with, out of his apartment. Ryan, it transpires, is a serial ‘one night stand’ guy, whose average ‘relationships’ last 10 hours. He goes to his job at a video store run by the hyper-sarcastic JT (Sean Farley, who also wrote the script) and spots a new member of staff, Alex (Dean Cechvala). We then have a series of dialogue that is oh so very Clerks (1994).

The problem with the dialogue, and therefore one of the biggest problems with the film, is that it is nowhere near up to the standard of that written by Smith. Whilst I can appreciate why the film makers would want to homage Smith, it just isn’t up to the job.

The basic premise of the rest of the film goes like this. Alex and JT have tickets for the Bladerunner double (theatrical and director’s cut) but no transport and so they persuade Alex to give them a lift. Alex feeds on thugsOn route they breakdown and head to Alex’s ex-girlfriend, Aida (Tina Kapousis) for help. They are attacked by muggers who stab Alex, who in turn vamps out and kills them. He then explains to the guys that he is a vampire (he’s filed his teeth down and it appears all the other vampires have perma-fangs) but he won’t kill them. Aida is also a vampire but they split up (after almost 31 years) as she is also an alcoholic.

Aida's endAida gives them the keys to her new boyfriend’s car, the new boyfriend being Slain (Jason Brouwer). As they are driving the trunk pops and, when closing it, they notice a picnic cooler full of vampire blood (all typed) and the staked vampire from the beginning. Alex rings Aida to warn her but Slain has awoken and stakes her.

Slain and Alex fightThe chase is on to find out what Slain is up to and, of course, stop him. This includes finding his next, and final, vampire victim – a vampire who is blood type O – and realising that the newly turned Slain intends to taint the blood supplies in the hospital he works in so that others might know what he is going through. The reason he needs vampires of various blood types is that if you mix vampire blood of one type with human blood of another type the blood turns black, or so they say.

It is a fairly simple premise and one of the problems is that such a simple premise is stretched to 108 minutes. I normally wouldn’t complain, after all the length is stretched out by dialogue, but as I say that dialogue isn’t as well written as it wants to be and the actors, whilst they try their best, quite frankly are not up to the task. Its a shame as the idea of a vampire trying to convert the world, not for power but so everyone could experience his pain was a fairly neat concept.

To the bar room vampire girlgive an example of the way in which, I felt, the script failed; Ryan’s over-sexed ways come back to haunt him when he meets one of the girls he used in a vampire bar, for she is a vampire (when they got it on they where both drunk and he overlooked the fangs!). There is an altercation and yet no conclusion, we don’t know if what she has said will change him, no real revenge is extracted – it was just there. A brave move but it was as though the script had the building blocks to be good but just wasn’t able to find proper closure with the elements it used.

The direction doesn’t help, it is pedestrian and no more than that and the (few) fight scenes are poor and lack that certain something.Dean Cechvala as Alex I was impressed with Cechvala as Alex, who tried to raise things up a notch and, scriptwise, also liked the little things it threw in about his past which rounded his character more, though it still needed further fleshing out. The other characters seemed a little too two-dimensional and needed fleshing out with actual feelings rather than the stream of sarcasm and stereotypes that we got. I mentioned the vein of comedy and it failed to amuse often – a problem both in the writing and delivery I feel. For example, the toilet gag (lack of paper) that was put in wasn’t very amusing and was utterly out of place.

Effects wise, given the alleged $35,000 dollar budget, the sfx were okay but most of what was done was by hint rather than anything else – though I didn’t have a problem with that. Location wise I was a little put off by the hospital scene in the end, given that the ‘blood bank’ was obviously a janitor’s area and blood is not kept in cupboards under the sink! I was also unaware that blood was combustible and wondered why they burnt the tainted blood at the end and didn’t just pour it in the sink – such is life! From the screenshots you can tell that the film quality isn't the best but it wouldn't have mattered is they had got the performances and script right.

Jason Brouwer as SlainI should mention that I was struck by how much Brouwer looked like a young Nick Cave, though a little fuller in the face.

There was a good film lurking in here, it just failed to emerge and I think I’m being generous by giving 3 out of 10 – which is more based on what could have come out of this than what did and the attempt to do something a little different genre wise.

The imdb page is here.

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