Film Review: Vamps
TL;DR Definitely not a return to form for director Amy Heckerling, Vamps is unfunny, slow-paced and boring. Some cute moments from Silverstone and a genuinely enjoyable performance from Sigourney Weaver keep it just bearable. 2 out of 5 stars.
Sigourney is my favourite Bad Boss.
The plot finds itself split awkwardly between Alicia Silverstone, a vampire from the 1800s, and her best friend Krysten Ritter, a vampire from the early 90s. Alicia and Krysten go around and club and have fun and be cute. They don’t even feed on humans and regularly visit an AA-esque program for like-minded vampires. One night she runs into an old boyfriend from the 60s (Richard Lewis). Old flames ensue. Meanwhile, Krysten gets into a relationship with Joey Van Helsing, much to papa Van Helsing’s ire. But it works out because plot. Something something something they all gang up on Sigourney Weaver (who is the vampire who turned Krysten and Alicia) because she’s a homicidal maniac. Alicia’s age catches up with her and she dust-ifies and Krysten has a baby with Joey.
I really wanted to like this movie. I love Clueless (seriously, if you grew up in the 90s and you don’t like Clueless, what are you even doing with your life?), Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter. But this movie is just a messy slop-job.
The major problem is the meandering plot. Everyone kinda just rolls around trying to make funny jokes about text speak until they all arbitrarily decide to kill Sigourney. Even the Joey/Krysten plot, which had the most potential, just sputters along randomly. She fucking shows Joey’s dad (Wallace Shawn, Cyrus from Gossip Girl) she’s a vampire the second time she meets him and he’s like “Oh, that’s cool.” Even though we see him enter a different vampire’s apartment and murder him earlier on.
Then when Joey finds out she’s a vampire, he has a momentary breakdown, then is like “Oh well, whatevs.”
Alicia’s plot is better, but it’s not very exciting. And when you’ve got Sigourney Weaver flitting around being cray-fab, it just pales (ah ha! Because vampires are pale!) in comparison.
The filmmamkers obviously realised this so near the end they were like “Let’s just have everyone team up to kill Sigourney. That counts as a plot, right?”
Why I hate this movie:
That pace is just infuriating. Admittedly, if you go back and watch Clueless now you’ll see a similar thing going on there. But that’s kinda forgiveable because it’s a high school movie (and from the 90s). You can’t get away with it now, though.
Krysten Ritter is grossly underused. If you’ve seen Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 then you’ll know she could have been so much better here. I reckon Vamps would have worked better as a standard-ish romcom between Krysten and Joey, with Alicia just adding a subplot.
Wallace’s character is bizarrely inconsistent at his job. I’ve already mentioned his ambivalence towards Krysten, but it doesn’t end there. Alicia goes to see him later to suggest a team-up against Sigourney, and he just lets her into the house to strut around, knowing she’s a vampire. It’s absurd.
The reason they go after Sigourney is because she’s causing too much publicity for vampires, which is making it easier for vampire hunters to track them down. Vampire hunters like Wallace. Who then joins our vampire heroes in killing Sigourney. Which will make his job (of hunting vampires, if you’ve forgotten) harder. Umm.
This is explained by the fact that he wants Krysten’s pregnancy to be okay (if Sigourney dies and Krysten reverts to being a human, she can have the baby), but come on. You’re gonna reject your whole vampire-hunting heritage to save a woman who might have a baby with your son, even though she’s a vampire and he barely knows her?
Sigourney doesn’t put up much of a fight. Lame.
Oh, and Alicia Silverstone looks old, which makes me feel old. Mortality!
Reasons to watch:
Alicia Silverstone is still cute, though. Just a few crow’s feet, but she’s still got it.
It’s also fantastic to see her in a movie that she didn’t film herself.
Despite being mostly sidelined, Krysten Ritter does maintain a decent presence. Her dinner with the Van Helsings is cute. She hypnotises his mother (a bizarrely cast Kristen Johnston. She is not old enough to be cast as Wallace Shawn’s wife. Rude) using her vampire powers.
The rules/powers for vampires are probably the most enjoyable aspect of Vamps. They include some old ideas, like TVD‘s hypnotism/compulsion and a fatal allergy to sunlight. Then there a couple of ones I haven’t seen before (though I’m no rabid vampire fan. I’m not a 13 year-old girl or an obese, 34 year-old cat lady), like vampires having to sleep on soil inside their coffins. And when their “stem” dies (the vampire who made them), their years catch up to them.
And it brings back the old “no reflection” thing, but puts it to much more use than usual. It plays a key part in Sigourney’s character, who laments the fact that she can never view herself in a mirror, photo or video. She even originally vampirised Krysten just so she could be a clothes model for her. Clever.
Wallace Shawn dropping the F-bomb was exquisite.
Best line goes to Sigourney, after she binge feeds on an entire Chinese restaurant (the people, not the food): “Just because you overdid it one day doesn’t mean you have to be bad all weekend.” That’s actually some solid dieting advice.
Malcolm McDowell cameos as Vlad the Impaler. It works.
Oh, and the final showdown with Sigourney includes some hilarious (intentionally so) special effects. Sigourney gets decapitated and then attaches her head to a skeleton. Cue 80s Clash of the Titans-esque stop motion. Brilliant.
Yeah, it’s cute and bubbly and sweet. But so is Passion Pop. 2 out of 5 stars.