Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1
Produced, Written, Directed, and Edited by Phil Messerer
DVD, No Rating, 86 Minutes, $14.99
Review by Sheila Merritt

Odd families warm the cockles of a horror lover’s heart. Certainly, the tweaking of an unrealistic conventional standard strikes a cord with fans of the weird and macabre. The made-on-a-shoestring indie film, Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1, harkens back to some other subversive cinema. There is a tinge of The Addams Family movies and Peter Jackson’s Dead-Alive in its scathing take on familial unity. The wacko sense of humor looks at a household whose bonds are strengthened when one of its members goes vampiric. It is warped, witty, and wild.

Told mostly from the point of view of Lara Baxter, the snarky goth (think Juno-like dialogue spouted by Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice) who has a rivalry with her sister Helen. Lara resents Helen for being popular, pretty, vegetarian, and achievement oriented. When this paragon of middle class virtue becomes a vampire, the dynamic in the household is altered. The dysfunctional family must pull together to satiate Helen’s new needs. Her gay brother trolls bars to get sustenance for his sis. In a really nice subliminal touch, brother Raymond is shown wearing the red jacket of one of the sacrifices to his sibling; talk about aftermath, or is it afterglow?

Mom also contributes in a major way, as do a couple of unsuspecting Mormons who learn a new understanding of the complications of belonging to a “family.” The one-liners are laugh out loud funny, as is the skewering of Anne Rice and her character Lestat in a hilarious take on the visitation by a veteran vampire trope. This movie is self aware and deliberately campy; right down to the ponderously narrated history/backstory that is a hallmark of too many horror films.

This Thicker Than Water should not, and indeed, cannot, be confused with other TV or films bearing this title. It is quirky and unique, which is a bit worrisome as it is marketed as the first of a trilogy. Time will tell if the movie is a one trick pony; still, if trilogies are good (or bad) enough for high end films, then who is to question a gutsy little cheapie that plays with, and has affection for, its genre? Available on Amazon, and a winner of multiple awards on the independent film circuit, Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 has been accepted into the first Bram Stoker Film Festival. The movie is far removed from being G-rated, but it still could be fun for the whole family; it just depends on the strangeness of the family.

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