So Vam **
Starring: Xai, Grace Hyland, Tumelo Nthupi, Chris Asimos, Ethan McErlean
Director: Alice Maio Mackay
So vampires are still a thing. Or at least they are for directing wunderkind Alice Maio Mackay, who has graduated from making small films to this, her directorial debut. The seventeen year-old has clearly been brought up on a diet of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, True Blood and Twilight (OK, maybe not the latter), because this neon-drenched, blood-soaked, plasma-sucking horror nods frantically at this cannon, all the while keeping its feet firmly in fully-fledged Queer diversity.
Kurt (Xai) is a head-strong but bullied teen at high school, who finds a way to stand up to his abusers after vampire April (Hyland) finds him battered and bruised and nurses him back to health by feeding him her blood. His subsequent transformation brings him into April’s clan, where he falls in love with the handsome Andy (Nthupi) and gives him the strength to enact revenge on those who have done him wrong.
There’s plenty of rivalry between vampire gangs, with conflict between them sitting alongside Kurt’s human woes, but as a result there’s just a bit too much going on. With plot aplenty crammed into a short runtime, it’s hard to keep track of all its subplots when there are so many plates already spinning. There is real ambition in the scale of this, but planing this back to its essence would have made for a more coherent, stylish and enjoyable film.
That being said, the cinematography is on point, with scores of luscious action sequences drenched in bold neon light. Its palate is positively delectable and its shimmering lens sheen makes for very pleasing viewing. And its soundtrack is spot-on. The death sequences meanwhile are sketchy, with characters dispatched without the expected gratifying ends, which are rushed and somewhat anticlimactic. Vampire movies deserve some glorious blood-sucking sequences, right?
So Vam is so retro it’s gone full circle to become so now. It’s a fun film, for sure, but it doesn’t quite live up to the works it tips its hat towards.
UK Premiere: SoHo Horror Fest, 26th-28th November 2021