Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fright Club – review


Directed by: Attika Torrence*

Release Date: 2006

Contains spoilers

Despite the look of the cover, this is actually a three separate episode film with a wraparound. *The vampire section was directed by Torrence, though there are three listed directors.

The wraparound sees three friends, Kassandra (Renee Reres), Omar (Riley Roberts) and Dante (Leonard Wu) turn up at a building where ‘Fright Club’ is meant to run from. Dedicated to artist Sebastian Crowe (Stephen Wastell). Exactly what they think fright club entails is not revealed but inside they find an art gallery, with Crowe’s work, and an elitist cliental – all of whom sport a certain tattoo.

Paula Ficara as VashistaThey meet Vashista (Paula Ficara) who tells them that to join fright club they must meet the elder and tell a horrifying story. They are taken into the basement and the three tales are our main film episodes. Kassandra tells a modern werewolf/red riding hood story called “Little Red Riding in the Hood” and Dante tells a modern Frankenstein tale called “Spare Parts”. However it is Omar’s vampire tale, “The Boy Who Cried Vamp” that we are interested in and which is the focus of this review.

The story starts with Jamal (Usman Sharif) in custody. He is telling the police a story about a vampire and his interview is taken over by Dr Wasserman (Sinck) who has to test the prisoner's sanity.

Nisa's danceWe cut to Jamal’s story and he is in a club. We see the performance of a dancer named Nisa (Maryam Basir, though credited on DVD as Shii). Post Nisa's dance he sees a guy trying it on with his girl Kendra (Kerisse Hutchinson) and gets jealous. Later Kendra notices Jamal looking at Nisa and leaves the club.

Jamal lives with his mother (Lace) who despairs at her son’s unemployment, slaps him around the head when he forgets to say grace at breakfast and likes to read the bible. He has come up with a new style of music – merging Gothic and hip hop, Goth-hop - but she thinks it is devil’s music.

Attika Torrence as LamarOff he goes to the club and talks to owner Lamar (Attika Torrence). He plays him a CD and asks for a gig. Lamar asks him about his music and he mumbles something about a darkness inside. Lamar likes the music, gives him a job, some money and Nisa – who takes him upstairs.

Nisa gets peckishThey are getting it on and at this point we have a new entry come to mind for vampire hunting 101. If you are bedded by a beautiful woman and it looks like hanky panky is actually going on but she still wears her hot pants and you are still wearing your underwear then the likelyhood is that sex isn't going to happen and she’s going to bite you! Which of course, in this case, she does.

unfortunately it isn't just the reflection fadingWhen he is woken by his mother the next day he immediately puts shades on. He looks in the mirror and has bite marks. His reflection starts fading (unfortunately the effects aren’t too good as his hand in the foreground also fades). Kendra comes round but he is dismissive of her. He decides to go back to the club and confront Nisa. She acts like she doesn’t know him but Lamar tells him that once every 100 years the coven requires new blood. Unfortunately this isn't expanded upon and is just thrown in, I guess, to sound mysterious and occulty.

all vampires togetherCut back to the police, who do not believe his story. He says he is not a vampire because he killed the head vampire but Nisa escaped and they have to find her. They have another theory, he found Kendra with Lamar and killed them – this is poorly handled film wise. We see Lamar and Nisa with a vampiric Kendra – why? Was she turned, and why was she a vampire in the cops version of events. We also see his mother dead – why? Who killed her? The film doesn’t tell us.

Usman Sharif as JamalInstead, rather than give a twist, which these episodic films normally do, Wasserman recommends he is institutionalised – fin. Perhaps the hint was that there were no vampires, that Jamal killed Lamar, Kendra and his mother and that he is insane, but it wasn't explained clearly enough to portray that, if the case. That theory also makes a mockery of the wraparound story's spoken coda that Nisa is still at large.

Vampires are easy, effects wise, all you need are fangs and the effects in this section are superior to the rest of the film – other than the unfortunate reflection faux pas that I mentioned. The acting is also fine, nothing startlingly brilliant but nothing wrong with it. The story – unfortunately – has no twist, no surprises and gets sloppy at the end. This is ultimately a shame as this would have been, and probably still is, the best segment of the film otherwise.

Ultimately the vampire section goes nowhere and offers nothing knew or massively interesting. It is too short to build the paranoia and tension it might have had if it was a film on its own with more length and it would be interesting to see Torrence take the short, tidy the story, lengthen it and make something of it in its own right. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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