Directed by: Amy Heckerling | 90 minutes | comedy, horror, romance | Actors: Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter, Dan Stevens, Richard Lewis, Sigourney Weaver, Wallace Shawn, Justin Kirk, Malcolm McDowell, Zak Orth, Marilu Henner, Scott Thomson, Todd Barry, Kristen Johnston
Some things work better on paper than in practice. The same goes for “Vamps,” Amy Heckerling’s new film. Heckerling had its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, at the helm of classics such as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) and “Look Who’s Talking” (1989). For the comedy “Clueless” (1995), the director teamed up with Alicia Silverstone, the blonde babe from the Aerosmith clips who became the face of a generation as the wealthy high school girl Cher. “Vamps” brings Heckerling and Silverstone back together after more than fifteen years and that should be cause for celebration. On the DVD cover, the horror comedy is described as a cross between “Sex and the City” and “Twilight”, but rather it is an updated version of “Clueless” with two vampire girls as the main characters. Just like in “Clueless” love is central and Silverstone provides a sassy voice-over. It’s just a shame that the jokes are a lot less accurate this time.
In “Vamps,” we follow the experiences of Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter), two young women who, thanks to their tribe vampire Ciccerus (Sigourney Weaver), got a second life as undead. Stacy became a vampire in the 1990s, Goody in the 1800s, but she lies about her “age” in order not to feel old. The two hip singles drink rat blood through a straw and, like all women in New York, are on the hunt for cool outfits and nice men. While Goody develops feelings for an old 1970s flame, Stacy falls head over heels for Joey (Dan Stevens), the son of vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (Wallace Shawn, the teacher from “Clueless”). When the two women discover that they can become mortal again if they kill their tribe vampire, doubts arise. They may miss the tyrannical Ciccerus as a toothache, but which is better: stay young and beautiful forever or grow old with the person you love?
The idea behind “Vamps” is okay, but the implementation leaves something to be desired. Where “Clueless” was sharp, cheerful and trendsetting, “Vamps” is mostly campy and only sporadically really fun. “Clueless” sketched a humorous picture of the youth culture of the nineties, produced a number of classic quotes and made, among other things, the knee-high stocking look and the slogan As if! popular. “Vamps” lingers in obvious jokes about texting language, smartphones, social media and our obsession with youth and beauty. Goody and Stacy are very concerned with their looks, but can’t see themselves – they are vampires, after all – in the mirror. Goody always smears her lipstick next to it, and that is as funny as a shot in front of an open goal can be. Also laugh: at every social occasion the characters in the film are more concerned with their mobile phones than with each other. It’s a point that is good for a grin once, but after three times it gets pushy.
As a counterbalance to tame observations about modern society, “Vamps” contains a few scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in “Scary Movie”. For example, Goody licks a drop of blood from the nose of a cokehead. Her tongue enters one nostril and comes out the other. Fun? Mwah, maybe if you’re really corny. Ever talked to someone who is constantly joking? That is amusing for fifteen minutes, then it gets on your nerves. This also applies to the trendy turbo language and the slapstick-like states that screenwriter Heckerling incorporated a little too emphatically into her screenplay. Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter are quite charming as vampire chicks, but in the highest position they too get bored quickly.