Vampires, the latest in what’s becoming an annoyingly long line of horror mockumentaries, actually opens with a really funny joke. Like most mockumentaries of this sort, the movie begins with a title scrawl explaining how the filmmakers came to document the lives of monsters, followed by another line of texting revealing… eerily… that they were never seen again. What follows is a brief scene of the filmmakers greeting the vampires for the first time and getting immediately devoured. Then the whole thing happens again with a second film crew a few months later. By the third time you’re laughing your ass off but also wondering why anyone would make that third attempt. It’s a confusing but truly exceptional way to start off a movie with a tiresome concept. It’s a shame that the rest of the movie is tiresome enough to make you forget all about it.
It turns out that there’s a very large vampire community in Belgium that decides to let a human film crew record their daily lives. Why in God’s name they would do this is never explained, adequately or otherwise. The vampires in Vincent Lannoo’s Vampires are elitist bores who view humanity the same way that humanity might view squirrels if they were tastier: lesser beings, basically vermin, who just happen to be everywhere. What is the target audience for this hypothetical documentary? It’s didactic enough to be of no interest to vampires, but so revelatory about the secret world of bloodsuckers that showing it to humans would probably be a bite-worthy offense.
About that didacticism, it must be said that the world Vampires creates for itself is a truly involving one, filled with minute details that are intriguing without ever driving the story forward. That last part’s a critique, not a compliment, but it is genuinely interesting to see a vampire school in which the young students (many of them young only in comparison to their immortal sires) are indoctrinated to violence through forced screenings of snuff films and later taught the best places to bite a human using a Resusci Annie doll that, in the light of day, will later be used to teach human children CPR. The vampire notion of family is equally perverse: since neither pregnancy or disease is a going concern, sex is completely uninhibited and sex amongst one’s own vampire ‘family’ is viewed as perfectly healthy and normal. Most kinky indeed.
But unlike True Blood, for example, Vampires never mines these kinds of conceits for their innate entertainment value. There’s one utterly frightening sequence in which a vampire cocktail party culminates with a home invasion by dozens of nosferatu at once, and also several disquieting moments in which we see that the heroes of the film have missing children and illegal immigrants in a free-range enclosure amidst their dense backyard. But the kind of sick sexuality or even the suspense of discovery are never utilized to any real extent. Even if it were real, this would be a fairly dull documentary about a fairly normal family (normal for vampires anyway) going through some rather petty problems.
Still, credit must be given to filmmaker Vincent Lannoos and his co-writer Frederique Broos for crafting a truly convincing world of the supernatural. It’s a shame that the process of creating a believable vampire culture apparently necessitates that said world must be a little boring, but for horror enthusiasts there are infinitely worse vampire movies out there. Infinitely better, too. Watch We Are The Night instead.
Crave Online Rating: 6/10