DVD review – Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 (2008), Region 0 (USA)

Lara Baxter (Eilis Cahill)

Lara Baxter (Eilis Cahill)

Lara is a classic teenage Goth; conventionally morbid, Anne Rice obsessed and spiteful towards her suburban middle-American family. Lara especially hates her wholesome and popular sister Helen so vents some angst by casting a spell on her. Unfortunately the spell kills Helen and then brings her back as a vampire, leaving the rest of the family in a somewhat awkward situation as in order to look after Helen they must supply her with a steady diet of fresh human blood. Helen isn’t happy either as before becoming a vampire she was vegetarian.

Thicker Than Water is an ultra low budget blend of horror, melodrama and humour. It is clearly made by people who are well versed in the horror genre and aware of how to present a new spin on vampire mythology without deviating too far from commonly accepted conventions. Thicker Than Water takes the genre seriously even though it has plenty of fun self-reflective moments and some very wicked throw-away lines. Overall it is closer in tone to films such as May and Ginger Snaps rather than Buffy The Vampire Slayer and, thank goodness, it is at the other end of the spectrum to Twilight.

Helen Baxter (Devon Bailey)

Helen Baxter (Devon Bailey)

The initial editing could be tighter but it improves substantially as the film progresses and overall the film is nicely structured and well paced. With the exception of the terrible voiceover, the acting is terrific with everybody playing their parts with just the right degree of seriousness and absurdity. A lot of the original music is very good but not always used as well as it could be as the soundtrack is frequently overbearing. The cinematography is decent and the production design wonderfully evokes the suburban gothic feel that the film is aiming for. Most importantly is the fact that the gore effects are excellent and used strategically to create a sense of delirious over-the-top violence without ever feeling tired or overused.

Thicker Than Water is extremely rough around the edges but in that great way that evokes the vibe of a classic underground midnight movie, such as early John Waters films, Eraserhead, Braindead and Re-Animator. This is by no means a slick and polished film but there is a lot of budding talent behind this film and horror fans are going to really enjoy what it achieves.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

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