Thursday, March 29, 2018

AS:VS Back in Business – review

Director: Jim Weter

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

Despite saying, at the end of my review of AS:VS At Stake: Vampire Solutions, “There is a sequel – not yet released – and I am really looking forward to it.” I have to admit that the sequel did fall of my radar but when it suddenly appeared on Amazon Prime it was immediately put on.

Despite being a budget indie flick, the first film was a black humoured comedy that really pressed my buttons in all the right ways. This sequel was welcome, enjoyable but didn’t press my buttons in the same way. This probably had something to do with the fact that the humour was somewhat curtailed and veered more into character humour, rather than the black comedy under-current of the first film, and it didn’t work as well for me.

news reports on a new strain
Not that I am saying this was bad, far from it, or unwelcome, again far from it. Just not quite up to the first film. So, to recap – there is a vampire virus in the world and people are turning. Some of them are more zombie like (deliberately so – the filmmakers know that the folkloric vampire has more in common with the cinematic zombie, in many respects, than the suave creature of the night). In the first film we do hear of a strain of intelligent vampires who can blend with humanity. In this there is a new strain, one of the horde variety but one that rapidly turns.

Evan and Ulrich on a call
In this world there are vampire solution crews and the one we are with, AS: VS, is now run by Evan Shandling (Jimmy Patterson), who was the film student who documented the crew in the first film. In this there is pretty much a whole new crew with him and near the head of the film Gage (Ross Williams) goes to pick up to foreign exchange workers, Wolfe (Joshua Brunson) and Akemi (Vee Gray). Into the mix comes Ben (David Hammons), a federal licensing agent who is going to interview the crew and go on ride outs to see if they can be independently licenced. It is a week before Halloween and it seems that they are getting a lot of deadly prank calls.

David Hammons as Ben
What I did like was the background of large companies subsuming little operations – and the fear that the prank call outs and the presence of Ben was down to this. Just to clarify, when I say pranks, they really are deadly – vampires with glass in their throats to prevent them making a noise and their legs tied so they crawl at the crew, or a call to a close quarter attack where no vampire should have been. However, despite this the larger aspect was not the focus of the film that was the crew (as a team and individuals) and the larger conspiracy was more used as texture to the story.

confronting the infected
I said that the comedy was more character driven and it centred mostly on characters such as Gage – who worked – and Templeton (Duane P. Craig) a street talking, rapping, white homeboy wannabe. Templeton just didn’t work for me – but comedy is subjective. There were some occasional moments featuring audition tapes (to join the crew) that didn’t do much but didn’t offend either. But these are quibbles – mostly the film had lost some of the humour but carried a dark action element that worked really well. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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