"Two female vampires in modern-day New York City are faced with daunting romantic possibilities."
Given the new format of my blog, I didn't know whether to post this review yesterday for those people who are absolutely terrified of watching romantic comedies meant for middle-aged women or wait until today due to how miserable "Vamps" turned out to be. Obviously, I decided that "Woeful Wednesday" was the best choice.
I should have realised that something was very wrong with a movie that had a very limited theatrical release only a few days before becoming available on DVD and Blu-ray. Call me cynical, but it reeks of the distributor realising beforehand that "Vamps" was going to bomb in the cinemas.
"Vamps" is certainly not in the same league as "Clueless" (1995) in spite of its cast, but it isn't actually that bad if you don't have a sense of humour. I'm lucky that way because I watched it as a straight vampire movie and used it merely as a means to ogle Krysten Ritter. For "normal" people who want something to laugh at other than pop culture references, "Vamps" will probably be a disappointment.
The story itself isn't so much a comedy in the strict sense of the word as it is a semi-tragedy. While there are enough contrived scenes of merriment to appease the casual (and extremely dumb) viewer, the more you think about the macabre existence of the lead vampiresses, Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter), the worse it becomes.
Like everything Amy Heckerling has written, the dialogue in "Vamps" is clever and witty. Unfortunately, it would be better coming from the mouths of a bunch of desperate, old satchel-asses in a TV series rather than in a movie about vampires. Make up your own mind about which TV series I'm referring to as I'm sure you can think of three or four others off the top of your head.
Unless you are of a certain age, you probably won't understand all the cynical swipes at teenagers, the internet, the "must have gadgets", or the sad message of "Vamps" that eventually you simply have to stop pretending to be young. I get them, and they are kind of depressing especially as I agree with them all. I also despise texters, smartphones, reality television stars, and 99% of the "Sex and the City"-inspired generation that I'm forced to endure daily. Kudos to Amy Heckerling for lampooning today's society even though she's a bit late on the bandwagon this time.
However, as I said, I really only watched "Vamps" to lust over Krysten Ritter. As much as I worship Alicia Silverstone like the crazy goddess she is, a vampiric Audrey Hepburn lookalike really does it for me. Although Alicia is good, Krysten steals the show in every scene they share. I'm not familiar with her work and have never seen her in anything else so presumably she's a known comedy actress. Based on how sexy she looks with fangs, I hope she does some hardcore horror movies in the future.
The other cast members are also culled from the TV comedy genre apart from Dan Stevens who plays Lord Arthur Holmwood in the 2006 TV version of "Dracula" (which I have yet to see), and the once "big name" actors such as Sigourney Weaver and Malcolm McDowell who appear to be slumming it. I can't say that any of them give a bad performance, but it's surprising to see them in something like this.
A precedent for vampire comedies starring actors who should know better goes way back to "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (1967) so "Vamps" isn't entirely out of place among such titles as "Love at First Bite" (1979), "Once Bitten" (1985), "Vampire's Kiss" (1989), "Love Bites" (1993), "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" (1995), and "Vampire in Brooklyn" (1995). I have no idea why anyone would think that vampires and comedy go together as none of these movies really have enough horror to be classed as true horror-comedies. None have enough comedy to be funny either.
"Vamps" does quite well with its plethora of amiable yet slightly odd characters despite them all being inconsistent and woefully underused. In several cases, they aren't much more than extended cameos which is a shame considering the heart that must have been put into creating them. Even in such a throwaway comedy, they deserve better.
Some of the computer effects are horrendous although I have to give credit where it's due for the make-up which is mostly excellent (and also a little bit silly looking on the older "Stem" vampires). Someone did a great job on Sigourney Weaver who doesn't look her age at all. Her Cisserus character is a mixed bag, but it hammers home an excellent jibe at certain TV show cougars.
I wish I had more to say about Alicia Silverstone, but she gets eclipsed by everything else which is going on including a whole world in the background which is more interesting. Basically, Goody isn't ditzy enough or a strong enough character to carry the film on her own. Lovely and talented as she is, Alicia also looks too old for the part. Not that she tries, but she can't get away with being Cher anymore. Lamentably, this is hardly another "Clueless".
With the best lines and scenes already given away in the trailer, I can't recommend that you rush to see "Vamps" if you expect it to contain any more of the same. I'm not saying that it's full of padding because there is more than enough material forced into this to make a decent 92 minute long feature. I just don't think it's put together in the best way possible, and it might have been better as a pilot for a TV series.