Friday, July 06, 2018

The Beaumonts – review

Director: Jamie Sharps

Release date: 2018

Contains spoilers

When this appeared on Amazon video my first thought was of the Butcher brothers’ films The Hamiltons and The Thompsons. There are some surface level similarities but then this film does reference other examples of the genre through its running length and I can’t dismiss the notion that the most obvious correlation was deliberate.

With that said, where The Hamiltons was a dark character study, The Beaumonts is a comedy and quiet absurdist in parts – though it steered clear of making me laugh out loud, if I’m going to be honest. It begins with a car...

ready for the kill
The car pulls into secluded woodland and the occupants kiss. The girl, Carmilla (Sheri Lee), puts the window down on the driver’s side as she likes to hear the sound of crickets. We see pov movement towards the car as they begin to kiss again. We see her fangs and she attacks as her brother, Edward (James Richardson), lunges through the open window and attacks from the other side. So we have a vampire named Carmilla and a vampire named Edward (though we don’t discover their names in this scene).

Carmilla and Joe
Joe (Matthew Dean Fletcher) wakes to his alarm. He trudges through the house, breaking a booze bottle and ripping up a picture of his ex. He leaves, putting off his landlord (Dale Mottram Jr.) who is after rent and going to the night shift at a nursing home, where he is the handyman/janitor. He meets his dayshift equivalent (who is also a drug dealer) and partakes of a line of… at this point it looked like coke but later it is given a name of “magic dust” and when Joe says everyone does it, he’s not kidding. In a bar scene later most of the patrons are openly sniffing plates of it. He asks the dealer if he has asked Carmilla out yet, the answer is negative.

Alan Gilman as Abe
Inside Joe is taken by head nurse Mrs Blofeld to meet new patient Dusty (Richard Miller) and his friend Abe (Alan Gilman) – why the handyman meets and (later) has to look in on patients is unexplained. Sharp-eyed viewers can’t help but notice that Dusty has a stake hung round his neck and a wooden cross in his pocket. To cement things Dusty later tells Joe he was a vampire hunter but then suggests he was joking. Carmilla is a nurse in the home and, that night, kills Dusty (having made the cross he holds in his sleep fall through, I guess, Telekinesis) . To do so she felt the need to strip to bra and knickers (to stop getting her uniform messy, one assumes).

Vance and brides
Basic story then is Carmilla and Edward are an incestuous vampire brother and sister (this was the Hamiltons correlation) who have moved into town with their mother, Lucy (Stephanie Gilson), and father Count Vance Beaumont (James Parry). There is some suggestion of actual familial ties, rather than forming a family through turning. Vance has ordered them not to feed in their own town (though Dusty was sanctioned as a kill) but they keep disobeying him. Edward, incidentally, has a look modelled on THAT Edward. Something is going on with Vance, and he clearly has a trio of vampire brides beyond his actual wife, who is up to something herself. They are, in a word, dysfunctional. Abe takes the inept Joe under his wing as a trainee vampire hunter after saving him from Carmilla.

preparing to stake Edward
As for lore. They are fine in sunlight but most other standard lore holds true. They are wounded by holy water and warded by crosses, garlic is apotropaic and high levels will make them vomit blood. They are strong, fast and there is evidence of eye mojo (on each other as well as humans) and shapeshifting. To kill a vampire it is a sequence of stake through the heart, decapitate, garlic in mouth and cremation. The invitation rule holds true in this also. Humans can be turned and this involves a bite but as we don’t see it happen it is unclear as to whether blood sharing is necessary.

Joe is splattreed
The film was alright. Some of the comedy was on the absurdist side and it never really made me laugh – though I wasn’t cringing either. Some of the blood effects were good, others so-so. There was a moment when wind noise in the mike overcame the dialogue and as it only happened in one scene we must question the sloppiness of this. The acting wasn’t earth-shatteringly good but Matthew Dean Fletcher was personable as Joe, though the vampire cast struggled to make some of the more archaic turn of phrase believable and this felt like a dialogue issue as much as an acting one. None of the actors really struck me as comfortable with comedy chops.

This is one where I appreciate that the filmmakers had an idea and did what they could with budget and a sincerity. It didn’t work that well but didn’t totally fail and I have erred on the side of generosity with a score of 4 out of 10 because lower seems churlish. The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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