Friday, September 15, 2017

Vamp or Not? All Girls Weekend

The 2016 Lou Simon directed All Girls Weekend is part slasher with aspects reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project (a landscape that won’t allow you to escape) and a touch of the Evil Dead (specifically the vegetation interacting in a sinister way). None of that, of course, would explain why I am looking at it as a ‘Vamp or Not?’

You’ll recall that I recently looked at Jug Face and whether the land itself could be deemed as vampiric. When I looked at that film, this one was actually brought to mind also, and so we are looking at a potentially vampiric landscape.

Annie and Nancy
After an intertitle that states “With every birth, there is blood…”, we see a murder out in the woods. However, the film proper starts with three young women who went to high school together. There is Gem (Gema Calero), Stephanie (Karishma Lakhani) and Daniela (Katie Carpenter). Daniela is getting somewhat agitated as their fourth companion for the all girls’ weekend, Nancy (Jamie Bernadette), has not arrived and it is getting too late to set off. Nancy arrives and has a further person in tow, Annie (Sharron Calvin). None of the others know Annie, she works with Nancy and has recently suffered a breakup and Nancy has brought her along.

Katie Carpenter as Daniella
The girls decide to leave the next day and Daniela comes across as rather bitchy towards Nancy. It becomes apparent that the girls had drifted since school, that Daniela was overweight at school and was bullied due to it and that she primarily blames Nancy for that (although towards the end Nancy suggests she actually defended Daniela much of the time). This, of course, means the group begins with some tensions already manifested.

Gem and Stephanie
They go out to their vacation and it is an outdoorsy sort of event in a winter landscape. They do a death slide and are driving to their next destination when Daniella pulls the car over and suggests an impromptu hike through the woods (she has visited the area before). This hike proves longer than suggested and ends up with an accident in which Annie falls onto a branch that punctures her leg. Unable to find the way out of the woods they end up at an abandoned cabin…

So they are ill equipped (as the hike was impromptu), lost and all their mobiles seem to have lost charge. The area has a reputation of being cursed and, as the film progresses, they are beset with accidents (and a bear at one point), poison ivy faux pas, frost bite and it becomes apparent that one of them is somewhat homicidal. So, why is the landscape potentially vampiric? Well the wood becomes a character in itself, and refuses to let the girls leave. This Blair Witch lifted theme is better done because at least the girls are sensible enough to try and follow a stream (the failure of the characters to understand the mechanics of streams and human settlement in Blair Witch is one of its biggest issues).

when vines attack
The woods also seem to be able to make sinister noises and communicate on a psychic level with humans. There are quite a few bodies out there in the woods and it can actively manipulate its vegetation to, for instance, hold on to a person (à la Evil Dead) and can summon up winds. One of the girls acts like a Renfield or familiar to the woods, but what does it want? It is clearly killing those within its boundary but we get the words “This place needs blood to replenish itself” – so we have a definitive need for blood mentioned. As well as this one girl is told to “bring more blood”.

a previous victim
That then is the crux of the matter. The land is intelligent, damaged (through manmade pollution) and seeks to replenish itself with blood… and we can extrapolate that this is human blood as the wildlife in the woods (the bear being the primary animal we see) do not seem to be attacked for their blood and the land is as able to kill as the “helper” it chooses. The filming seems a little washed out, though the winter landscape will impact that, and the acting is functional rather than outstanding, but the landscape is indeed vampiric.

The imdb page is here.

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