“BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS” (Film Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley No Comment
While horror and comedy seemingly can go hand-in-hand with relative ease, the truth is that making the two genres work together is a bit more difficult than one might expect. After all, audiences are accustomed to having comic relief in a horror movie or absurd pitch black situations in a comedy film, but mostly in small doses whereas a flat-out “horror comedy” is much more of a tonal balancing act. In a worst case scenario, you either wind up with a horror movie with desperate, tone-deaf comedy or a comedy that is equally as desperate by firmly grounding itself in spoof territory. However, in better cases, such as BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, both the tones work by serving both the horror and comedy as honestly as possible.
For those unfamiliar with BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, the film follows Evan, whose life in and out of the workplace is becoming a living nightmare: his ex-girlfriend and coworker is vindictive over their recent break-up, his coworkers refuse to actually do any work and he is passed over for a promotion by his boss for his formal college rival. However, that nightmare soon becomes more literal than he ever could imagine as his rival turns out to be a vampire, dead set on stealing his girlfriend and turning the whole office into “more efficient” employees. Eventually, Evan teams up with his best friend and the company’s security guard to fight back against the vampires and rescue his ex before she becomes next on the menu.
BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS carries with it a bit of independent charm: the movie mostly takes place in an office building and parking garage, is peppered with moments of irreverent improv comedy and is unafraid to take a biting satirical edge to workplace comedies at times. But at the same time, the film also commits to the occasionally intense and always bloody horror scenes as well while also respecting the logistics of vampire lore. But perhaps even more impressive than the splattery gore and crude-yet-largely-clever comedy is the fact that the film treats its characters with respect, honoring a continuity in motivations and justification rarely seen in indie horror comedies.
Likewise, the film also offers a very adept technical side as well, anchored by the sharp, space-advantageous cinematography from Matt Mosher. The editing of the film from Andrew Coutts is also top notch and helps punctuate the tonal shifts perfectly, while the special effects from Mark Villalobos are surprisingly excellent, especially when they go way more visceral than one might expect. Yet, in all honesty, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS isn’t quite a home run either: while Brian James O’Connell proves himself a solid director with a mind for clever editing and unique storytelling, the handling of the improv moments are a bit hit-or-miss, and some of the subplots receive anti-climactic endings that drag down the films otherwise breakneck pacing.
BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS also sports an incredible cast of versatile performance, lead by a charismatic and hilarious Fran Kranz as the scrappy yet intentionally never quite badass Evan. Emma Fitzpatrick also holds her own quite well in the role of Amanda, Evan’s ex, playing it straight most of the film yet also fitting in believable emotional beats and even a bit of a mean streak. Meanwhile, Joey Kern, Joel Murray, Yvette Yates, Marshall Givens and the Dr. God troupe (who cowrote the film alongside Ryan Mitts) each bring their unique comedy stylings to the film, which in turn surprisingly offers a variety of hilarious moments that rarely feel repetitive or singular in source. Yet special credit is also deserved to Pedro Pascal, who really shows a smug and smarmy villainous side which offers the farthest thing from his badass, suave past roles.
Overall, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS isn’t just a good time, but it’s a damn well made movie that shows equal respect to its comedy and horror elements. While the film isn’t going to win any Oscars and treads lightly when nearing anything remotely subversive, Brian James O’Connell delivers effective action, hard laughs, and lots and lots of blood for good measure. It’s a horror comedy that runs lean but makes the most of every minute on-screen, and thanks to a very talented cast and efficient filmmaking, BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS provides a bite that is just as strong as its bark.