Thursday, 30 August 2012

Frightfest Review - The Thompsons ★ ★ ★

Review by Damon Rickard
Stars Cory Knauf, Samuel Child, Elizabeth Henstridge, Daniel O'Meara & Mackenzie Firgens
Written by Ian Clark
Certification UK 18
Runtime 84 minutes
Directed by The Butcher Brothers

Think you know your vampires?  Think again.  The Hamiltons are no ordinary strain of vampire as they have not been turned.  In a world where vampires procreate, they were born with a disease which left them blood thirsty killers.  Killers that can set foot in daylight but are also just as susceptible to pain and death as anyone else. Following an incident in America that left a trail of dead bodies, they changed their name to The Thompsons and went on the run, ending up in England.  Having to lay low and keep themselves out of the public eye, they can't kill easily so it is here they hope to find the help they need in order to survive, as without blood they will starve to death.  All they have is a name, Manderson and a town, Ludlow.  Francis (Cory Knauf) makes his way to the seemingly sleepy town in search of the mysterious Manderson.  Once found, he finds that the stranger he went in search of is the head of another vampire family, the Stuarts and soon suspects that the kindness he was shown may have darker, ulterior motives lurking beneath.

The Butcher Brothers follow up their award winning original vampire flick with another blast of sex and death.  They bravely take the vampire genre and break the rules to allow them to make the film they want to.  One of the problems with horror is, even though these creatures don't exist, us viewers are very particular about them following the right rules (zombies walk, they don't run).  Vampires are no exception - the rules are they can only go out at night, they can't see their reflection and can only be killed by a stake through the heart and have a severe disliking to crosses.  Well in this film not a single one of those rules turns up.  Which leads to the question are these people actually vampires or is the disease that is referred to simply one that makes them vampiric in certain ways.  The only ways in which they appear to adhere to vamp lore is the drinking of blood to survive and that real food makes them sick, so they don't eat.  But this doesn't detract from the film as it enables a story line that doesn't become shackled with the burdens of moving only within the restrictive rules.  Rules are there for breaking and if it works then does it matter? 

The Thompsons is a fast paced, beautifully shot, deliciously violent film with decent performances from all the cast, including a nicely broody turn from Knauf, that relies more on the style than the substance . The dialogue at points is a little weak and the story line is fairly simple but where some films would be broken by this, The Butcher Brothers have managed to still craft a highly entertaining film that sticks two fingers up at the "clever" writers, saying we don't need a string of highly intuitive speeches, we need fun.  David Mamet once commented that you don't need good dialogue or good characters, you just need to make the audience want to know what happens next.  For me this film did just that.  Could it have done with rounding the characters better?  In fairness yes is the answer, the Stuarts were fairly one dimensional with the exception of Riley (the lovely Elizabeth Henstridge) who wasn't born with the same need for blood.  The rest, including the patriarch, were given very little else.

It was these areas that stopped me giving The Thompsons the four stars I really wanted to as it entertained me as much as other four star films, but I felt that it breezed through a lot of the film with an almost acknowledged disregard for, in film terms, the finer things in life.  Such as the the exposition which all came at the beginning and the end and left very little for the middle where the film just kind of drifted along.  All in all you could do a lot worse than giving this film a go, it has enough about it to entertain you (which at the end of the day is generally a film's purpose) just don't expect a masterpiece.  This is one certainly not for the True Blood crowd and for this I am truly thankful.  So if you like your vampires to come without the teenage angst of American TV shows but does contain bucket loads of blood (special mention should go to the high quality special effects seeing as the shoot was very restrictive time wise) then this is your baby.

No comments:

Post a Comment