J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Living Among Us: Interviews with Vampires

Vampires are finally getting more media savvy. They will invite a TV news crew into the home of a respected member of their underground community, so they can explain vampirism is really just a medical condition. Or maybe they will simply kill them, because nobody will miss a few media jerks. Either way, Benny the intern will be filming way more than he bargained for in Brian A. Metcalf’s found footage horror-comedy Living Among Us (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

Mike, a local market prima donna broke the story revealing the network of blood banks supplying plasma to vampires, so the bloodsuckers’ sect leader naturally reached out to him for a proposed up-close-and-personal piece on life as a modern-day vampire. The blood banks’ secret distribution scheme was actually a good thing because it means they no longer need to kill to feed. The traditional vampire lore are just myths and misconceptions Andrew and his wife Elleanor insist. However, they insist on some suspicious ground rules before they allow Mike, his segment producer Carrie, and Benny, the station manager’s idiot brother-in-law to stay in their home. Of course, we’re talking about staples, like crucifixes, holy water, and wooden stakes.

As you would expect, the vampires immediately act suspicious, especially Blake, a swaggering Lestat wannabe and Selvin, a deeply warped former dungeon “dweller.” Fortunately, the nebbish Benny has a compulsive need to document everything, so he will capture some freaky business—thereby supplying viewers with our movie.

Metcalf maintains a healthy energy level and his screenplay is reasonably amusing. Still, it is hard for LAU or any subsequent vampire comedy not to suffer in comparison with Taika Waititi & Jermaine Clement’s What We Do in the Shadows, especially when LAU uses a documentary-news crew conceit. On the other hand, Metcalf recruited the character actor power trio of William Sadler, John Heard, and James Russo, as the vampire sect leader, Andrew the vampire host, and the gruff station manager, respectively. All three give any film instant credibility.

Indeed, you have to give Metcalf credit—he skewers the media quite effectively, while cranking up a sense that things are about to go very, very bad. Andrew Keegan and Chad Todhunter chew the scenery nicely as wildcards Blake and Selvin. Plus, Esmé Bianco, arguably the biggest genre star from Game of Thrones and The Magicians is suitably regal and fierce as Elleanor.

There are plenty of prior found footage mock-doc horror movies, but LAU is cleverer than most. At times, its limited budget results in some cheesy looking TV newscast sequences, but that’s forgivable. Recommended for horror-comedy fans, Living Among Us opens tomorrow (2/2) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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