Bloodsucking Bastards (2015) **
D: Brian James O'Connell
C: Fran Kranz, Pedro Pascal, Joey Kern, Emma Fitzpatrick, Justin Ware, Marshall Givens, Yvette Yates, Joel Murray, David F. Park, Neil W. Garguilo, Zabeth Russell, Parvesh Cheena
Plot Synopsis: An office worker springs into action after learning that his boss (Pedro Pascal) is a scheming vampire who is turning his colleagues into members of the undead.
Review: The employees at a telemarketing firm discover that their workplace is being token over by vampires. The metaphor (or analogy) is rather obvious - that the workplace can suck the life out of employees. Since this point comes across clearly from the get go, where's there left to go?
We watch as a bunch of wacky employees, say a lot of wacky things and partake in a lot of wacky behaviors. This gets tiresome, real quick, because there doesn't seem to be a single character or situation grounded in reality that we can relate to. It's wacky on top of wacky on top of wacky. Comedy is supposed to come from observations related to human life so there has to be some sort of semblance to reality whether that comes from the people we're watching or the premise.
Since the film deals with vampires, we can discount that the reality is supposed to come from the premise. That makes it up to the characters and the actors at hand. The most logical choice for that would be in the form of leading man Fran Kranz. Kranz has camera presence, but director Brian James O'Connell needed to reign in his over the top performance. Kranz is supposed to be the voice of reason to all of the outrageous things that are occurring around him. That, in effect, makes Kranz the straight man, but he plays his role in broad manner similar to everyone else.
This is one of those horror comedies in which the entire cast works hard to show us how funny they are. I HATE (in capital letters) this approach. This is the thing. The characters in a comedy usually don't know that what they're doing is funny. Think about it. In the film Clueless, part of the charm came from Alicia Silverstone's character doing and saying some of the dumbest things imaginable without Silverstone's character being aware of how stupid the things she was saying and doing were. In Bloodsucking Bastards, both the characters and the cast seem to be in on the joke.
That's not to say everything is lost. There are a few moments of hilarity, just not enough. The last act, a blood soaked finale that's reminiscent of Dead Alive, but with vampires in place of zombies has energy & momentum. However, to get to the finale, that means having to sit through too many jokes & performances that don't work. They literally throw any and everything into mix hoping that, at least, a few of these jokes will score laughs. What the people behind this don't seem to understand is that comedy is like horror in that you can't rush into it. It requires precise timing, intricate staging and it has to be built up and earned. Bloodsucking Bastards seems more concerned with trying to go for the most obvious gag now vs trying to stage things for a big comedic payoff later.
Bloodsucking Bastards is a lot like Fran Kranz's lead character of Evan. He works hard, but doesn't quite know how to get his fellow co-workers to do their job nor get the results that his company needs him to get. This a film that so desperately wants to be funny, yet it doesn't have a general understanding as to the basic principals of effectively conveying or executing comedy. [Not Rated] 86 minutes.
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