There's No Such Thing As Vampires Movie Review
Written by Ren Zelen
Released by Ascent Releasing
Directed by Logan Thomas
Written by Aric Cushing and Logan Thomas
2020, 81 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest World Premiere on 28th August 2020
Emma Holzer as Ariel
Aric Cushing as Maximilian Maddox
Josh Plasse as Joshua
Meg Foster as Sister Frank
After the recent foray into ‘sparkly vampire as romantic hero’ territory, I for one, am all in favour of giving this familiar horror monster some of his bite back.
Logan Thomas’s feature There’s No Such Thing As Vampires begins in a promisingly enigmatic way – after an apparent nighttime attack on a group of campers, a solitary, shirtless, blood-splattered survivor escapes in his car. So begins a furious Duel-like chase of a hapless victim by an unseen antagonist in a battered RV.
Meanwhile, innocent Ariel (Emma Holzer) is happily driving through the night on a jolly journey to join her friends (why she couldn’t make the trip in the daylight remains an unanswered question) when, on a lonely country road, Josh (Josh Plasse) the terrified survivor, crashes into her car.
Although Josh emerges from his now useless vehicle scared, shirtless and blood-spattered, Ariel nevertheless insists that the priority is to exchange insurance details and gets irritated when, catching sight of the pursuing RV getting closer, Josh instead demands that they get into her car together and drive off fast – unless she wants to die.
Disconcerting indeed, and Ariel is understandably skeptical. Her initial incredulity is quickly abandoned when the mysterious pursuer indeed proves to be dangerous. She then gives Josh her full sympathy and support, believing his story about a relentless vampire slaughtering all his pals and hunting him down. It’s not exactly the usual excuse following a car crash but her trust in him is now unshakeable. I guess the brainless, shirtless ‘hunk in peril’ has brought out her, er…protective, maternal instincts.
Her swift allegiance also helps to move the story along, and the pair need to be moved along. Despite Josh, with his permanently bemused and worried expression, repeating that he must ‘go it alone’ and not put Ariel in danger, she now insists that they’re both in it together ‘to the end’.
By daylight they seem to have ‘lost’ their pursuer and Ariel is determined to take Josh to the friends she was going to visit and report their dangerous encounter with the driver of the RV to the police.
Before they can do that however, Ariel kindly lends Josh her oversized tee-shirt to cover his naked pecs just in time for them to take a quick detour to an isolated desert church to ask for directions. There we are treated to an encounter with a gibberish-talking inmate and a nun with the unlikely name of Sister Frank (veteran actress Meg Foster, she of the creepy eyes) who whispers gentle offers of kindness before flying off into a crazed rant about the ‘dark wind’ that has cursed the desert thereabouts from the prehistoric times.
After helping themselves to the nun’s petrol (why a nun has such plentiful supplies of gas we are never told) Ariel and Josh eventually arrive at the house of her long-time friends, David (Will Haden) and Peter (Scott Lindley). Ariel is convinced she and Josh are now safe and so makes up a story about being run off the road by an angry driver and wanting to report the incident to the local police.
Our young couple faff about with David and Peter who have, for some reason, been watching grainy old silent movies featuring an evil magician Maximilian Maddox (Aruc Cushing) and his son who is, oddly enough, a Josh lookalike. Now that we can all guess where the film is going the protagonists adjourn for a nap during the remaining daylight hours.
Once night falls the filmmakers can again utilize the vampire mythology by having the RV roll up outside the house under cover of darkness. Sadly, the inhabitants learn the hard way that Ariel and Josh’s story of erstwhile road rage wasn’t entirely the whole truth, and after a quick visit from Josh’s becloaked and hooded antagonist, not all of them are in a fit condition to rush to the police station.
The remainder escape to the cops where they relate their horror story, on Halloween night no less, to some comedy police officers before, finally halfway through the film, the vampire pursuer catches up with our young couple and what’s left of the cast, mysteriously controlling the electronics of the police station and dispensing with anyone who gets in his way, all so he can get to Josh for reasons most of us will have already guessed.
With Ariel determined to rescue her man, the final scene takes place in a conventionally dilapidated building, and the whole business is concluded with a denouement containing as predictable a twist as you could wish for.
The production values are good and the film’s director Logan Thomas has assembled an interesting cast of veterans and new talents. The chase action is well done and the premise of the film contained the promise of originality, but unfortunately, confusing editing and occasionally dodgy camerawork has a tendency to cause exclamations such as, ‘Where did that come from? What just happened? Should I know who that is?
With nods to several horror film classics such as Jeepers Creepers, Nosferatu, Fright Night, Terminator and Duel, and stridently accompanied by a Carpenteresque electronic soundtrack redolent of the 1980s, we might be inclined to give the movie some leeway for the nostalgia factor alone, but by the end neither the script nor the story make for a satisfying narrative.
Personally, I was hoping that There’s No Such Thing as Vampires might be a film that I could get my teeth into, but the film nibbles on so many different horror tropes that it turns out to be a rather overstuffed concoction with too many ingredients. It’s a bitty, but not very ‘bitey’ vampire flick.
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