Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thicker Than Water : The Vampire Diaries Part 1


Prior to director Phil Messerer sending me a screener copy of this flick the other day, I actually already had a bit of a history with it and had in fact even supported and covered it many many months ago due to a glowingly positive review written by my buddy The Bonebreaker over at Mad Ravings of an Entertainment Junkie. Being that he and I tend to agree with one another when it comes to opinions on movies, I made a couple posts in the past supporting Thicker Than Water based solely on his 'mad ravings' about it. On top of that, I saw bits and pieces of the film in the Troma offices a couple months back. They were sent a screener copy and another intern was tasked with watching it and determining if it was any good. Being that I didn't have much to do that day, I ended up watching some of it with him. He didn't seem to care for it in the least so he was fast forwarding through most of it and it was so loud in the office that I really couldn't hear anything anyway, so I wasn't able to form much of an opinion on the movie. Needless to say, i've been anticipating checking it out proper for quite some time and the opportunity came last week when I got an e-mail from Messerer himself asking if I wanted a copy. So thank you, Phil, for sending me your film and finally letting me see it. I didn't fall head over heels in love with it like Bonebreaker did nor am I certain that a part 2 or 3 is needed (a trilogy is planned)....BUT! I did have quite a good time with this fresh and clever take on the old and tired vampire tale.

In short, Thicker Than Water : The Vampire Diaries Part 1 is a tale of two sisters ; Lara and Helen. Lara is the weirdo goth. Helen is the popular beauty queen type. It probably goes without saying that Lara isn't the head of the Helen fan club. One night, Lara gets really fed up with her twin (ya, they're twins) sis and performs a voodoo ritual of sorts on her that is supposed to give her nothing more than a bad case of anal acne. The ritual seemingly works, but not how Lara planned it. The next morning, Helen has just about the most serious nosebleed one has ever had and ends up dying from it. Now Lara may have hated her sister but she didn't exactly want her dead. Soon after, Helen returns to the family home covered in blood, the blood of the morgue dude who she has just fed upon. Yep, Helen is now a vamp. The rest of the movie deals with how the family deals with their vampire daughter/sister. To help her feed or to not help her feed, that is the question. Thankfully, Thicker Than Water opts for the former rather than the latter.

It's always good to see unique and original contributions to the horror genre and this movie is just that, which scores it major points and allows you to see past its shortcomings. It's a little too silly and a little too stupid at times but one thing the flick does not do is take itself too seriously. And you shouldn't either. Messerer was clearly having a lot of fun with his first feature film ; from the whacky and experimental camera angles that reminded me of another early career film, Scott Spiegel's Intruder, to the narration by a dude who sounds like Ed Wood fave Criswell, to the silly ginger wig on a vampire that comes in towards the end of the film, this was obviously not meant to be taken all that seriously. I mention those three points because those are three major things that Day of the Woman's BJ-C did not like, to say the least, about the movie (her review here). And at first, I didn't like them either. The camera angles seemed a bit pretentious at times and the narration and red wigged vampire were pretty godawful. But once I stopped taking the film too seriously and realized that it was meant to be a darkly comical and fun movie, those bad aspects became part of its appeal. Once you decide to have fun with the movie and enjoy it for what it is, it's a pretty entertaining ride.

One of the main assests of the movie is not only the clever and witty dialogue, but the way it's delivered by the amazing cast. Good acting in an indie horror film?! That's a new one! The standout for me was Eilis Cahill as Lara, the angsty goth who prays to the alter of Anne Rice. She totally steals the show and is highly entertaining to watch. Can't wait to see more from her in the future. Also of note is Jojo Histrova, who plays the mother of the twin girls. As a serious testament to the awesome makeup in the film, Histrova is actually one year younger than the actor who plays her son (and yet looks much much older than him in the movie). That's some impressive Max Von Sydow shit right there! The makeup throughout is equally impressive and really helps sell the movie as a whole.

Thicker Than Water is a flawed piece of work but it's an impressive first outing for director Phil Messerer and if ya ask me, he's only gonna get better from here. Part 2 is currently in pre-production and i'm betting it'll be even better and more polished than Part 1. And while I may have said up above that a trilogy is not necessary, I can't say I wouldn't like to check more Vampire Diaries out! I definetly recommend you at least give this movie one viewing. It's not for everyone but I think those that it is for will find it to be pretty enjoyable.

You can buy Thicker Than Water on Amazon for $14.99. Being that the film has not been picked up for distribution yet, this disc is a DVD-R made and distributed by Messerer himself. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it gets picked up for distribution real soon, especially given all the praise it's been receiving. Thanks again, Phil, and keep up the good work!


BJ-C said...

See, I think this film is going to grow on me. I did take it seriously. Won't lie. I think I tend to REALLY like things when I don't take it seriously...IE: The Happening...haha. The second I put myself in the mindset that they were being sarcastic the whole film, I thought it was great.

Johnny said...

Exactly! I watched The Happening, taking it seriously, and HATED it. But i'm pretty sure if I go into it again knowing not to take it so seriously, I will enjoy it. After watching Thicker Than Water and re-reading your review, I could tell you took it too seriously and probably would enjoy it a lot more once ya didn't.