September 4, 2015
Dr. God and Ryan Mitts
Brian James O’Connell
Fran Kranz as Evan
Pedro Pascal as Max
Joey Kern as Tim
Emma Fitzpatrick as Amanda
Joel Murray as Ted
Back in 1999, had Office Space’s Mike Judge taken that film’s locale, the wide array of wacky characters and the spot-on portrayal of mindless and soul-crushing office work, and added in a gaggle of blood-thirsty vampires,Bloodsucking Bastards might well be the film approaching a 20-year anniversary! Even if you set aside the glaring shortcomings of NO red Swingline stapler and NO lunch breaks with “flair”, Bloodsucking Bastards still offers you an enjoyable horror-comedy treat!
Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Wood’s pot-smoking Marty) is our hero Evan — the “acting” sales manager at a customer sales company. They represent many different products, but regardless of what services/goods they’re offering, there is a lack of motivation, a lack of caring and an over-abundance of soul-stealing monotony in this office – which adds up to a perfect situation/environment for a corporate-minded head vampire to swoop in and turn things around. That vampire is Evan’s old college nemesis, Max (Pedro Pascal). Evan uncovers the truth behind Max’s usurping of Evan’s intended promotion, and as things in the office get dire (corpses are found in the bathroom, the lighting is continually dimming and former slackers become model employees), Evan must summon some courage, convince his remaining co-workers of the danger and step up to the plate, all while trying to win back the heart of his intended, Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick).
Kranz’s Evan is a likeable doofus, holding out hope that he’ll move up in this dead-end company, trying his best to be a good leader, and failing to do much good on any and all fronts. So when he’s given the task to protect his friends and his girlfriend, and indeed this lame job against a vampire onslaught, he does his best. He’s that bumbling nerd of so many other pictures, where we’re happy to see him climb up from his doldrum life and stand up for something. This is a credit to Kranz. Like his enjoyable performance in Cabin in the Woods, he pulls it off here as well. He’s a dork, but since he’s a pretty decent guy, we’ll happily tag along as Evan turns from sniveling boy to still-sort-of-sniveling man.
Emma Fitzpatrick is Amanda, our female lead. She’s also Evan’s currently estranged girlfriend – working in the HR department. Awkward! Fitzpatrick brings a nice strength and no-nonsense quality to Amanda. All of the other goons in the office laze around all day, but Amanda’s a go-getter. And she wants to go get Evan – she loves him. Despite Amanda’s firm demeanor, Fitzpatrick also gives us a few glimpses into Amanda’s softer side – specifically, after she’s had to be tough on Evan and he then vacates her office. She’s “working hard” as he disappears, and then falls apart, her head falling into her keyboard. Bottom line, we like Amanda, and it’s nice when she catches up on current “vampiric” events in the office and becomes part of the kick-ass group.
And then there’s Joey Kern (of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever) as Tim, the numb-nuts slacker you love to hate. Despite the fact that based on Tim’s motivation and skill-set, he shouldn’t have this job (orany job), he’s loyal and loveable. As the lead, we like Kranz’s Evan, but the one we really want to chill and hang out with, is Tim. I’m reminded of the story of a former co-worker in my retail days. He was a surfer-type dude who just told it like it is. When customers were on the fence for a purchase, he would follow up with them at a later time, blatantly asking them, “so… what’s the deal, are you gonna buy it or not?” And he had top sales many times. That’s Tim! He’s a slacker, but somehow gets things done, and doesn’t stress about his numbers, or anything else in his life for that matter – including possible vampire invasions!
And finally – yes, that is Joel Murray (of the Murray family comedy-dynasty – he’s one of Bill’s younger brothers) as big boss, Ted – providing some comic lineage legitimacy to the film. He may not be a household name or an Oscar nominee, but dammit, he’s still a Murray. Those guys simply ooze comic talent and bring quality wherever they go, so it’s nice to have him on board inBloodsucking Bastards.
Despite my warm feelings toward the film, it wasn’t all hunky-dory from the get-go. Lots of the jokes didn’t quite work, and the overall feel of the film was a bit flat. It’s as if it were a live stage production, and the actors weren’t properly warmed up – so it felt lethargic. But as it progressed and the writers and actors hit their stride – and by the time the climax wows us – we’re in love with the characters, laughing out loud at the jokes and enjoying the over-the-top ridiculousness!
Of particular note in the writing department, is the early-on flashback reveal for the reason behind Amanda’s ice-cold demeanor toward Evan. It’s a brilliantly written line with spot-on delivery, and will be revisited once more in the film. Clever. I just wish all of the one-liners could have hit this coveted mark.
The vampire make-up effects are reminiscent of the original Fright Night, and as such, are nicely effective. There’s also plenty of bloody gore, including an unusual rule for vampire demises – adding plenty of bloody, juicy fun to the climax!
Speaking of which, the final battle in the corporate offices is a gem. In one of the few actually unnerving sequences, many of the newly-turned corporate staff surround the conference room (the one with the many windows). As they stand there awaiting orders, it gives off an eerie, “waiting to pounce” vibe. Overall, there’s not much in the way of scares. Perhaps a few effective “boo” moments, but this film is more focused on garnering laughs than making you pee your pants.
If your soul is lifeless and sagging due to your current office gig, you’ll appreciate much of the dialogue, many of the familiar events and characters and also the satisfying feeling of seeing some doppelganger corporate co-horts fall victim to violent and untimely deaths.
If you’re a vampire movie fan, you’ll find something worthwhile here as well.
Overall, it’s just a bloody good time about sucking blood and sucking at life.
Bloodsucking Bastards opens in theatres and is available VOD on September 4th.