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Vampires (2010)

Vampires (2010)

Writers: Frédérique Broos, Vincent Lannoo
Director: Vincent Lannoo

Full Review

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Vampires is a faux documentary about vamps living in Belgium. It's billed as a comedy and certainly has funny moments but it's more than that.

The setup for the film is that a Belgian TV company has been invited to make a documentary about the country's hidden vampire population. Unfortunately the first two crews were eaten... However after much negotiation they have decided to try again.

The documentary focuses on a 'nuclear family' of vampires - mum, dad and two teenage kids - along with their downtrodden neighbours (also vamps) living in the cramped cellar. Although it wouldn't be fair to say they've 'integrated' into ordinary society they've definitely found ways of working within it and have a functioning community with its own rules (The Code) and culture. For better and worse.

At the beginning the film has some very funny moments. There are also a variety of Addams Family style reversal, such as the sulky teenage daughter who always dresses in... pink. However things soon begin moving to the darker end of the comedy spectrum. The gags are still there but they become smaller, subtler and nastier.

Which becomes the basic structure for the film: it makes the vampires seem like sympathetic characters with problems like our own, then casually drops in a comment or action that reminds us they're monsters. For instance the couple downstairs seem really nice and deserving of better - until we learn of the 'souvenirs' the wife keeps. It works really well, partly because it's so underplayed; there are no shock moments or jump scares and no gore. Just a line of dialogue from someone we've started to like.

Acting is solid, no stand outs but no failures. Direction works well, partly because it too is kept simple. There are no trick shots and, mercifully for a pseudo documentary, Lannoo uses shaky camerawork appropriately and keeps it to a reasonable level.

If you go into Vampires expecting to be constantly laughing out loud at silly gags you'll be disappointed. It's much darker and smarter than that. Vampires is a clever, funny and very nasty delight.