Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1
Thicker than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 is a blood soaked black comedy with a sharp, genuinely funny script. The title is awful but thankfully it doesn't reflect on the film itself which is one of the best horror/comedy crossovers in a very long time. A typically dysfunctional family in small town America have to deal with some trying circumstances when daughter Helen dies unexpectedly only to return as a vampire.
The film mainly follows Lara as she tells us about her family and small town life in backwoods America. Lara is a Goth and she really doesn't get on with her twin sister, Helen. In fact she wishes her dead but when the spiteful prayer is answered she is shocked by the consequences. The mother and father are going through a divorce and Lara's brother Raymond is a gay neuroscientist intent on performing experiments in his small bedroom. The family are rocked when Helen returns from the morgue covered in blood which doesn't belong to her.
The action is interspersed with a back story which begins in Chichen Itza with Mayan sacrifices and eventually interweaves with the main action. Raymond figures out that Helen has a blood disorder or virus but Lara has a simpler explanation, she's a vampire. The family adjust quite quickly and dedicate themselves to feeding Helen so she doesn't expire. The action is chaotic and extremely funny as they keep a larder stocked with human sacrifices for the former vegetarian cheerleader to eat.
The direction, writing and editing from Phil Messerer are deeply impressive. This is a lovingly crafted piece of work and considering his only credit prior to this was a documentary the skill on show is surprising. He uses various techniques to show the action from different points of view, there are several montages which work brilliantly well with the music chosen and both the horror sequences and the comedy scenes are well timed and effective.
The acting is also very good and Messerer gets great performances from his mostly amateur cast. Eilis Cahill was totally convincing as the cynical Goth and a good choice for narration, Devon Bailey handled the transformation from cheerleader to creature of the night really well. JoJo Hristova was perfect as the Hungarian mother and her love for her daughter provided a few poignant moments amongst the comedy. I also thought Michael Strelow turned in a good comic performance as the decidedly odd brother, Raymond.
This is a rare example of quality budget film making which is beautifully directed, paced just right, skilfully edited and well acted. Perhaps most surprising of all the script was actually good and conjured up a few laughs. There are so many films aiming for that comedy/horror tag and the vast majority fail on both counts. This one succeeds. It grabbed my scepticism by the throat and bit down hard, shattering my low expectations and providing a really engrossing and enjoyable 86 minutes of quality entertainment.Short Review
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