Monday, April 19, 2021

Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers – review

Director: Ryan Barton-Grimley

Release date: 2020

Contains spoilers

Let’s head back to the 80s… the entire aesthetic of this film seems born of a love of the 80s, with a theme song and credits that sounded and looked “right there”, and a particular love of the Lost Boys - the film is mentioned (as are the sequels), the film is set in Santa Muerte (which summons thoughts of Santa Carla) and we get a sign for the “Sam Emerson Water Filtration Plant”. It is also very much a comedy, determined to not take itself seriously.

Sam Emerson Water Filtration Plant

It starts, before those oh-so-80s credits, with a man, on the phone, walking down an alley and trying to convince his girl that they are exclusive. There is a noise but no-one in sight. He calls out whoever it might be when, suddenly a figure appears (obscured for us). The figure attacks…

tent living

We meet Philip “Hawk” Hawkins (Ryan Barton-Grimley) when he wakes in his tent – holding a stake (we later discover that this is his “secret stake” that he carries about his person at all (or most) times). He is in his parent’s back yard and, finding himself locked out, breaks into the house. He preps for work as a security guard and eventually finds the note from his parents… they asked him to move out and not into the garden and the alarm was primed…

army encounter

He cycles off with all his worldly possessions and goes to find his best (and only) friend Revson (Rev) McCabe (Ari Schneider). Rev is a vegan pacifist and is on the beach performing tai-chi. Hawk is eventually late for work and we discover he was dishonourably discharged from the army having served a sentence for murdering a soldier (George Steeves) by sticking a blunt piece of 2x4 through his chest – no one believed he was a vampire. Hawk is deemed to be schizophrenic.

Jana Savage as Theo

That night he sees a vehicle pull up at an empty unit and two vampires and a gimp get out. Or so he thinks, it’s fairly clear to the viewer that they are Goths in makeup. Nevertheless he recruits Rev to help him fight the vampires (though Rev has some stipulations about no killing (with stakes, secret or otherwise), injuring or asphyxiating (with garlic)). He goes to paranoid ex-cell mate Jasper (Richard Gayler) for help also and ends up getting help from aspiring vampire novelist Theo (Jana Savage). Of course it takes a while for Hawk to realise his mistake vis-à-vis the Goths and we know that there is a vampire out there…

Ari Schneider as Rev

So, a comedy. Some may baulk, as the association of Hawk with schizophrenia might trigger, but it isn’t laboured and – given the real vampires – it probably isn’t an accurate diagnosis. More so he and Rev are affable losers who are absolute opposites and yet complement each other. The strength of this is in the two characters, and their interactions, and this is down very much to Ryan Barton-Grimley and Ari Schneider’s performances. I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny but I found it amusing throughout.

Ryan Barton-Grimley

As mentioned, this is a love letter to the eighties – but it also takes a sideswipe at the homophobia and misogyny that could be found in 80s horror through the Hawk character particularly. Hawk is that conundrum of the libertarian – he has a Gadsden Flag patch on his denim vest – who veers towards conservative (whilst essentially homeless) but will take numerous legally mandated breaks and, if you don’t like it, blame the "damn liberals". Whose best friend is one of those liberals… The socio-political commentary is not extensive… but it is there.

I found this to be a fun watch. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

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