Let’s face it, as much as us Horror nuts love the genre it’s become the ass end of many jokes in the film making industry. Long ago Hollywood deemed it a non-genre and films like the wonderful 1922’s Nosferatu, 1931’s Frankenstein, 1963’s Kiss Of The Vampire (etc.) are now replaced by temporary place holders like the horror/romance/teen drama Hybrid Twilight Movies, the endlessly repetitive Paranormal Activity and Conjuring series and the Instantly forgettable (downright insulting) Bye Bye man. Style, high drama and dread have been replaced by cheap jump scares, unoriginal visual cliches, gimmicks and (worst of all) the castration of the nightmare creatures who haunted us in order to make them gentle, sympathetic and heroic. Yes, The Monster in the classic Frankenstein film was indeed much easier to identify with than the evil Doctor Frankenstein..but this wasn’t to make us want to fuck the monster! It wasn’t done to make us want to be the monster..It was meant to make us question the very nature of the word, and damn it, it worked! Count Orlok didn’t jump out of a coffin and go boogie boogie, he slowly, carefully, meticulously crept into frame, his arrival was a slow burn build up of tension and that’s why Max Schreck will continue to be one of the greatest Horror actors of all time, despite the fact that he only did two films and has been dead for a very, very long time. These films had substance, they had flair and they ACTUALLY DUG THEIR NAILS INTO US..WITHOUT NEEDING GIMMICKS OR EVEN EXCESSIVE GORE! As much as I love the cheesy fun, graphic off the wall shit I chose to assault my mind with on a daily basis, I can’t help but miss these classics that I grew up watching with my Dad. Once in awhile I see a film that manages to add a little bit of drama back into things and create something special, something that goes that extra mile to give us more than just gratuitous nudity and violence and tap into that visually stunning, viscerally fueled pool that Horror sprang from..Films like Ryan Blazic’s MONSTERS AMONG MEN
MONSTERS AMONG MEN Introduces us to Reed Atwood, a smug, self satisfied businessman who finds himself smitten with his beautiful young assistant/girlfriend Allison . He takes her out to a romantic rural area with the intention of proposing but things spiral suddenly and violently out of control when a group of vampires kidnap them both. Reed manages to escape but his love remains in their possession leading him on a journey where he must give up the illusion of humanity and embrace his bestial side in order to get her back.
There’s quite a bit more to this film than I’m leading you to believe, but I refuse to add any spoilers here. I went into this film almost completely blind and I highly recommend you do the same.
One very ballsy choice made by writer/director Ryan D. Blazic was making Reed Atwood a cold, calculating, possibly sociopathic prick instead of the charismatic, heroic type we’re used to. In him we find a brilliant mirror to the creatures he’s up against, and we’re never really sure if he’s pursing all of this out of actual love or the mere desire not to lose what he sees as his. We find out that even before the vampires captured his supposed love she shot him down in his proposal. A scene where he discusses the rejection with fellow survivor/ makeshift vampire Hunter, Sadie, really illustrates just how egotistical and cocksure he really is. He doesn’t want to save her because he cares, he wants to save her because he believe doing so what get him what he wants..He’s just sealing another deal. This film might not have worked if not for the introduction of the very human influence of the lovely and lethal Sadie. Where Reed is cold and off kilter, Sadie is optimistic and humorous. She’s not cracking jokes and being irreverent like a Bruce Campbell character, but that little touch of sunshine and vinegar she’s got make her come across as realistic yet spunky. She was a real asset to this thing as was the voluptuously breathtaking female vampire Eva, who manages to be both devilishly alluring and strangely tragic, coming across as a mixture of Jessica Rabbit, Harley Quinn (Pre-shitty Hollywood movie of course) and the twisted Female friend from August Underground Mortem. It was beyond refreshing to see a gorgeous full figured woman who radiates sexual energy as well as Eva did here, really capturing the succubus-like female vampire that Hollywood seems to have forgotten.
I mean look at her…doesn’t get much more yummy than that…Sorry..back to the review..
There were a few performances here that came across as silly and over the top but even these were likely done on purpose to add a little levity to what could have easily been a mean spirited film without them and this worked in the film’s favor rather than against it.
The cinematography here was another angle that worked very well. While the camera was a bit low grade (Understandably so considering the amazingly low budget) it was more than made up for by creative camera work. POV shots, off kilter, slightly out of focus shots in some scenes and low to the ground shots gave this thing an uncomfortable yet subtle otherworldly feel that really worked for it. This was coupled with excellent use of the forest setting and natural lighting that made this thing brimming with beautiful brown and gold hues that made the unnatural nature of the monsters and leading man pop even more. The overall effect was Hammer meets Evil Dead and worked excellently, cinematographer Matthew Wesener worked wonders with very little and deserves much credit on this project
The effects here were sparse but effective (likely due to the restraint used) The design for the vampires, especially the choice to give them varying degrees of cannibal-like teeth rather than the traditional two fang design we’ve become so accustomed to worked very well to give them a more feral feel. The duality of their almost civilized characters (other than a handful of the more rednecky ones) perfectly illustrates what these things are, demons who take on the appearance of man for one purpose, to exploit, enslave and consume us..these are vampires done right, no glitter needed.
The music was another point in favor of this one, Thomas Berdinski gave us a wonderful synth heavy score to amp up the suspense and The Suzies and musician Bon Jurke added their own touch of flavor to the mix rounding things out nicely. Despite some of the music being modern none of it skirted over the line and broke the classic Horror feel that permeated throughout the film. This is one of the few modern horror films where I feel like it would be worth owning the soundtrack.
Overall I give this film no middle fingers up, it’s effective, compelling and really goes the extra mile to draw it’s audience in rather than just go for a few shocks. I look forward to seeing more from this very promising director….Although I do think they should have gone with something more a bit more stylish… like this for the coverart: