Vampires (2010): Out now on DVD
(15) Running time: 88 minutes
Director: Vincent Lannoo
Writers: Vincent Lannoo, Frederique Broos
Starring: Carlos Ferrante, Vera Van Dooren, Pierre Lognay, Fluer Lise Heuet
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Vincent Lannoo’s Vampires is a rather clever comedy about a TV crew who are tasked with documenting the lives of a family of Vampires in Belgium. The main worry is that this is now the third TV crew to attempt the job, the vampire family killed the last two crews but have assured the TV executives they will be on their best behaviour and will not harm this new one. That is the extent of the plot, but what the film crew get on camera is often very funny, and at other times shocking, but to be honest you wouldn’t expect a normal, boring documentary here. Georges (Ferrante) is the well spoken, well presented and calm head of the family, although cracks do seem to appear here and there at his frustration that his family simply cannot behave like normal vampires. His wife Bertha (Van Dooren) doesn’t like to speak much, his son Samson (Lognay) goes out partying and sleeping wither other vampires (something which leads to the family later being banished and relocated to Canada), and his gorgeous daughter Grace (Heuet) wants to be human so bad that she kills herself almost daily. Yes, this is a very normal family!
Added to poor Georges stress is the weirdos living in their basement, unable to have a child, the rules state that without a child you cannot own a house. Yes, we learn many bizarre vampire rules along the way here, and many odd rituals like Happy Death Day (instead of Birthday you see). The weird and annoying couple living on Georges basement will never have kids because the man will only have sex with young girls, and his partner keeps on eating children anyway so there is a risk she might eat her own child! The story does offer up many other very funny moments, and the acting from all the cast is superb. As this is a documentary, the film is presented in glorious handheld camera fashion, and there is no music to boost proceedings. Because of this the film can feel a little boring in places, and the often slow moving story may become too much for some, but for those who enjoy something a little different to your usual comedy or horror, Vampires does have its credits.
The script is well written, and the very funny moments often come out of situations that are just so bonkers all you can do is laugh. Witness the vampires hurling insults at a Priest, filing their teeth down, playing games where one has his back turned and counts out “one! Two! Three! Moon! Sun!!” while the rest sneak up on him. There is even a moment where they ask if anyone has ever eaten a cripple. I mean, this is brave filmmaking, taken incredibly seriously and played for laughs. We see the kids head off to vampire school where they watch horror films, and we then bear witness to the kids being taught how to attack a church. It’s bizarre stuff, but if you are welcoming to more arty horror, then you might find a lot to like about Vampires. There are moments of horrific violence, and being a film about Vampires, why wouldn’t here be? There is also a dodgy plot which has us believe that corrupt police bring illegal immigrants to vampires’ houses with the promise of a better life and a job. Instead they are greeted by hungry vampires who lock them up to get them ready for dinner. Georges has a complaint that most of them are black, but whatever colour, race, sex or age, the victims are known to the vampires simply as “meat”.
Make no mistake, Vampires is not for everyone’s tastes, and many will probably find this quite boring. It is in no way perfect, and even I struggled in places to keep my level of interest up, but when the film does deliver, it really does. The whole thing is done so calmly though, as if this is actually true, and will have you pondering over whether these things do actually happen, although not quite on the scale as it does here. There are many people in the world who believe, or would like to believe they are vampires, and if you watch this film then you would believe that those people just might be a little something like our bizarre little family here. Vampires is a comedy, a horror, a strange little fly on the wall documentary about a funny old way of life, and it presents vampires in a way you have never seen them before, with rules, with expectations, with order and with consequences. This is very interesting, very brave but flawed filmmaking which every now and again offers up a moment of genuine brilliance.