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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 (review)

Every Wednesday: a superindie, a movie available for anyone to view that has not gotten a traditional release. It might be available online, or to purchase on DVD from the filmmaker, or some other way that avoids traditional multiplexes and arthouses.

I was thinking they were already kinda Addams-esque, the Baxter family of this low-budget horror comedy, when we first meet them. There’s bored, gothy, 16-year-old Lara (Eilis Cahill), who loathes her twin sister, Marilyn-wholesome Helen (Devon Bailey); their sweetly demented older brother, Raymond (Michael Strelow); and Lord-morbid Mom (JoJo Hristova). But then vampirisim strikes the clan, and things really get creepy. Gruesomely agreeable twists on standard vampire motifs abound in this elegantly ambitious film — the first part of a promised trilogy from writer-director Phil Messerer — not just in how it plays with bloodsucker lore but in how it plays with how we expect such movies to turn. Yes, it’s hilariously grisly, and yes, it’s sarcastically funny, but it’s remarkably adept, too, at bringing a depth of emotion to what would certainly be the very real trauma of watching a loved one descend into a sickness both mental and physical. Winner of a number of festival awards, with its cast singled out for particular notice for their sly performances, this is a horror film for serious devotees who appreciate the thoughtful side of the genre.

Buy a region-free DVD of Thicker Than Water: The Vampire Diaries Part 1 at Amazon U.S., or watch the film on demand at Amazon U.S. as a rental or a purchase (probably for viewers in the U.S. only, but give it a try if you’re elsewhere).


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb

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