Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
For those of us sick of pretty, sparkly, promise-ring-wearing vampires mucking up the cinemas as of late, the Belgian flick Vampires bares both fangs, taking the piss out of every Nosferatu cliché possible, all in a side-splitting mockumentary style that manages to even inject new life into that (un)dead genre. The subjects are a typical Belgian vampire family: the dad, whose pretentious regality is often the cause of his foibles; the mom, who seems to be going slightly mad; the son, a hot-tempered rebel; and the daughter, whose only wish in life is to become human again, much to her parents’ chagrin. We follow them on their day-to-day lives, from awkward undead get-togethers and bloody mass feedings, to uncomfortable dinner parties and eventual expulsion to Canada, which hosts a progressive vampire community. Vampires is the This is Spinal Tap of horror, with every frame a sharpened stake in the eye of those that take vampire mythos way too seriously.
Kidnapped opens with a man lying on the forest ground, a plastic shopping bag wrapped around his head. He springs up and starts running, eventually hitting oncoming traffic. With his last breath, he calls his family from a motorist’s cell phone, telling them to get out of the house. Only it’s too late, robbers have broken in and shot the mom. These harrowing 10 minutes should have set the scene for a terse, exciting, dangerous movie. As the film unfolds however, instead of that, we get a brutal, unsettling, unlikeable torture film about a trio of Albanian robbers who torture a Spanish family for very little reason. Kidnapped is a bleak, cynical movie with a mean ending that leave the viewer empty. Leaves the viewer sick. Leaves the viewer dirty. The tension is there, and the violence realistic, but, sadly, so are the outcomes. No heroes here, just a bastardly bait-and-switch from director Miguel Angel Vivas.
Paul Rudd is an idiot, or, more specifically, the titular idiot brother to a trio of self-serving, self-absorbed sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer). He’s not really an idiot so much as he is a kind-hearted, too-trusting dolt, a smiling hippie who sells pot to a cop in uniform and only feels mildly bummed about it. When he’s released from prison, his horrible ex-girlfriend boots him out, keeps his dog, and puts him on a path to discovery that plays out like Being There if it were scored by the String Cheese Incident. Our Idiot Brother is fine, with Rudd giving a cheery, kindly performance, but other than that, it has a tendency to get a bit sitcom-my at times, especially when it comes to the goofy, laugh-track-written problems of each sister. It feels like that plot was written as an afterthought; all we really wanna do is chill with Rudd and make candles with him. That’s all we need.