Written and directed by: Phil Messerer
Starring: Eilis Cahill, Devon Bailey, JoJo Hristova, Peter Morr & Michael Strelow
Reviewed by: Brett H.
The Baxter family is ripe with sibling rivalry, mostly between twin sisters Lara (Eilis Cahill) and Helen (Devon Bailey). Helen is the princess, Lara is the goth and brother Raymond (Michael Strelow), well, it’s anyone’s guess as to what he’s experimenting with down in the basement. Sitting around the dinner table with some fine red wine, the kids are all shocked to learn that their parents have decided to go their separate ways. As troubling as this for everyone to take, it pales in comparison to what is in store for them just around the bend. What, exactly? Let’s just say that the wine isn’t the only substance of the red variety that a certain member of the family wants to indulge upon!
That was vaguest plot description in OTH! history, was it not? It’d be a shame to spoil anything for the ambitious horror hounds that hopefully will one day be able to seek out Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 from video store shelves. The film is a definite creative, independent effort and never tries to hide it; it’s hard to imagine a movie of this type being made any other way. I went into Thicker Than Water knowing little to nothing about it and I would encourage anyone else to do the same if at all possible. The film begins going in one direction and throws a nice curveball with some decent zing on it that brings everything to a whole new, ironic and interesting angle with plenty of integrity. And, repeat.
The plot is meticulously carved and you can tell that the director planned each and every shot before rolling, which brings a high class aura to its low budget feel. The dialogue is decent with a few genuinely funny scenes, but unlike upper tier horror comedies, the film is bogged down a tad by oddball characters that are all too quick to quip, but lack a lot of soul that makes a character believable and relevant in extraordinary situations. It almost seems that the family suspends their disbelief along with the viewer rather than making us believe the characters are experiencing all of the wackiness and reacting to it accordingly. Whatever comes out of their mouths is generally quite witty, but I really didn’t feel too much emotion for any of them, nor for the survival of the family vampire in which they all struggle to keep fed. Normally this would drop a big anchor on any film, but the strength of the thought-provoking, theme-filled plot and visually appealing direction overcomes the always quirky, but at times lifeless characters. There is a very cool art-house vibe running through most the scenes and the performances range from iffy to quite good, especially in a scene that requires actress Eilis Cahill to cry. I also must add that the scene where the vampire first appears packs a good scare with its ghastly blood-crusted mouth and bleeding eyes giving the creature a nice, horrific touch.
On the whole, the movie has its own identity and covers a vast array of vampiric history in the arts and in real-life (not to mention mainly concerning itself with its own identity) that makes every scene a joy to unfold. And, I just loved the joke within a joke appearance of a Lestat inspired character popping in for a visit under the name, Patrice Duchamp III. Between that last name and the mentioning of a Bordello of Blood in New Orleans; you know it’s all in honor of Corey “Feldog” Feldman who has seen his share of fang flashing action over the years on both sides of the stake. Thicker Than Water is gooey, ironic, deep, funny and absorbing, despite the character shortcomings and its dollar stricken roots. Like many independent productions, it goes to show you how true film fans can craft a nice little creepy horror/comedy worth adoring with little more than passion, all the while being inventive and forward thinking. As this is only the first instalment in what I hope will become a trilogy, I eagerly await where writer/director Phil Messerer will go from here. In sitting down and watching the movie, I was taken to a few places I've never been before in the world of vampire cinema. And, really, isn't that what it's all about? Rent it!
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