Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1
Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 is an interesting film that will have something for everyone, it's just that there's also something there that won't be for everyone. It's a real mixed bag.
Her jealousy and distaste for her perfect sister’s life comes to the fore when, after visiting the local gothic themed store, she cooks up a spell intended to cause a little unpleasant harm to her. However something unexpected happens and the sister dies.
She is filled with guilt and grief, as is the rest of the family, and so when the sister returns to the house after her funerl, wearing her funeral outfit and doused in blood, they welcome her with open arms.
However it’s clear that something is wrong and YY knows exacltly what it is, she’s a vampire. So the family take care of her, ensuring she has a steady supply of blood and doing her killing for her.
The whole idea for the story of the film is a good one, and an ambitious one, and it seems to be even more ambitious because the film tries to be so many things – a goreish horror, a dramatic story of a family coming together through adversity, a traditional, more psychological horror, a horror comedy, and the beginning of a more epic tale of vampires.
The film touches on all these areas, but I found it never successfully carried through on any one of them. There was a strong feeling that the film was diluted down trying to deal with these different styles, when picking one or two would have made the film much better.
If it had remained a gore horror for the festival fans, concentrating on the gory and sometimes funny effects with the oddball characters and quirky filming, or become a more dramatic and psychological film that it teased in quite a few scenes, looking more at the family dynamics and the struggles involved in trying to keep a vampire in the family home, or even gone down the epic route that the voiceover and final reveals suggested, then it could have been a much more effective film.
As it was I felt it merged too much of these together, tried to be too much, and never successfully cornered one of them.
The early scenes try too hard to make the characters odd and off-beat, and because of that I didn’t feel any connectiong with them, and that comes back later on in the film when I’m supposed to have a connection with some of them to feel the impact of the scenes and of the story turns.
These scenes also seem at odds with what the terrible sounding voiceover that opens the film with and pops up at various stages, bringing the epic, historical story to the film which doesn’t come across to well in connection to the main story. I understand what the connections are, but this more epic, historical staging for the story seems to end with the sections featuring the voiceover, or the later flashbacks.
Character development also suffers as the film seems to try to do too much, and this is probably most notable in the vampiric sister and the strange brother. There is a good attempt to show that the brother has changed from a closeted, stay at home twenty-something into a confident, outgoing man who seems to be one of the main gatherers of food for the sister, but this is carried off a bit too quickly, sometimes in passing reference, in the background, and in a scene or two which show the handing over of a phone number and the victim being in the house. I did think that there could be much more made of that change, rather than him just being different.
Some of these character decisions seemed odd too, for example the family leaving blood all over the house as the killings continued, however it fitted well with the gore festival horror film idea, and that shows again this feeling that the film was trying to deliver multiple styles in one.
There were some good moments, and these were where the stronger, dramatic and horror side popped out, or a couple of moments which felt very comedic and raised a giggle or two. There were some clever turns of the script in both story and dialogue, and while the acting was a little rough in the beginning it definitely improved as the film went on and the more dramatic requirements came out.
The filming style flipped around a bit too, from the off-kilter hand held shots and zoomed in close-ups on characters to the rather cooly portrayed movement of the vampire during her first kill in the house, a scene which pushed more towards the stylised tale than the straight up horror.
Again though, the competing styles in the filming were to blame for pushing me out of the film and not being able to concentrate on the actual story. Not helped by some of the more sudden cuts made during the editing of the film.
Music does the same, going from a well chosen song into a backing piano track that played throughout the dialogue for far too long, and on one occasion one of the louder goth rock tracks was playing and was instantly cut off to return to straight dialogue, a choice that seemed at odds with the constant piano playing track.
The ending of the film promised a great deal, and really tried to turn the film back to the more epic vampire tale. However the ultimate final scenes seemed to be at odds with this and brought the story back into the family again, but ultimately never ended up taking it further than where we had come in the first half.
Initially I struggled with the film because of the opening voiceover and the oddball style and characters for the opening scenes, but after these moments passed I felt I was flipping between different kinds of film and I never could hold onto one of them long enough to get truly involved.
Personally I would have loved to have seen a version of this story that did away with the horror festival side of the film and concentrated on the dramatic and more epic sides of the story, because that story definitely exists there.
There are some promising moments of script and filming style, from the background epic story to the appearance of the stranger at the end of the film, the dramatic view of the family and the visual portrayal of the vampire’s first kill, however I just never took to the stranger horror elements.
I think Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 will do superbly well with horror film festival audiences, but something more focussed is needed to reach a wider audience. Perhaps Part 2 will venture out of the horror festival arena.