Director: Vincent Lannoo | 89 minutes | comedy, fantasy, horror | Actors: Carlo Ferrante, Vera van Dooren, Pierre Lognay, Fleur Lise Heuet, Julien Doré, Selma Alaoui, Paul Ahmarani, Thomas Coumans, Alexandra Kamp-Groeneveld, Batiste Sornin
Halfway through “Vampires” – tribute if you’ve come this far – the question arises whether director Vincent Lannoo’s sole goal is to turn his film into a cult classic. The setting and lighting are so cheap, the acting are so fake, that the seventh grade level is never exceeded. This must have been meant to be very camp and cult. But with such a cringe-worthy display, you may wonder if it really is.
However, the premise of “Vampires” is even more charming. The everyday life of a Belgian vampire family is captured in an everyday (fake) documentary, complete with interviews in which the family members elaborate on their customs. A cozy breakfast with warm blood, learning to bite in the right way at school (“turn the head 15 degrees”) and pick out a new coffin together (it turned pink).
Not everything is rose scent and moonshine. Daughter Grace prefers to become human again and therefore tries to commit suicide in various ways and son Samson sleeps with the wife of the vampire leader, about the only taboo in vampire land. Lannoo has taken a good look at “True Blood”, because all the vampire codes come along.
The documentary makers are not completely safe either. Two crews in front of them have already eaten and the vampires sometimes have to hold back if they don’t want to do the same with the current film crew. Lannoo is clearly inspired by the illustrious “C’est arrivé près de chez vous” from 1992 by his fellow countrymen Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoît Poelvoorde. Also fake documentary, but about the daily worries of a murderer and also – probably not coincidentally – one of the greatest Belgian cult hits ever.
But where “Chez Vous” obtained that status because it was a special and good quality film, “Vampires” tries the opposite. The documentary style is confused with the cam recorder from “Festen” because the picture quality is terrible. The lighting is regrettable, even during the interviews the image is grainy amateurish and to make matters worse, there are even counter shots during some scenes, as if one had forgotten for a moment that this is not possible with one camera.
In such a setting, the actors can hardly be blamed for appearing totally unbelievable. You mainly see people who try not to act. They love throwing vampire clichés like “it stinks like people here”, but it never gets funny.
Everything radiates an absolute bloodlessness that should not have cost anything, but which apparently has been thought about. This is no camp, no cult, no humor.
Fortunately for Lannoo, there are always some vampire fanatics where the film can achieve cult status.