23 February 2012

Bram Stoker International Film Festival

Bram Stoker International Film Festival - Whitby, England from Bram Stoker Film Fest on Vimeo.

If you're wondering whether it's worth the trip to Whitby (England) this October for what has been described as the "best genre festival in the world" then this video might help.

More info on the festival here.

14 February 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Trailer

This. Looks. Awesome. And you definitely can't go wrong with a voiceover by Johnny Cash. June 22 can't come soon enough.

02 February 2012

Being Human (UK) S1 E5

Spoilers Ahead

Just when everything was going so well suddenly it seems like it's all about to fall apart. Not so good for the characters but high on the scale of entertaining for us.

Episode 5 starts with the usual voiceover narration, only this time it's Herrick that's doing the talking. Interesting choice. It elevates Herrick from being the two-dimensional villain lurking in the background to being a person, maybe even one we should care about. And yet the more human he seems to be (he could probably teach our heroes a thing or two about being human) the more his evil acts stand out. He's not just the bad guy--he really is a monster.

In any case as Herrick narrates we see Lauren and Mitchell kissing before Mitchell stalks away. In a flashback we watch Owen visiting Annie's body in the morgue; he puts on a show of tears while he thinks he's being watched but as soon as he's alone a smug smile takes over. And finally we see Nina and George acting like any other normal couple getting ready in the morning. Yet George can barely take his eyes off Nina's horrible abdominal scars, a mixture of confusion and concern on his features (and maybe a hint of vengeance--or am I reading into it too much?)

After the introductory scenes we find Owen at the house, although I'm not sure why he would be there. Suddenly he sees Annie's reflection in a CD and hears echoes of screams. That freaks him out enough that he leaves in a hurry. It also gives Annie the idea, which she later relates to George, that she's going to haunt Owen. She thinks that's why she's still there (as a ghost). There's some nice camera work in this scene that carries over into the rest of the episode (I'm not sure if it's always been this way and I'm only now noticing or if it's a new style). Shots are filmed from behind objects giving the whole thing a very extemporaneous and natural feel. It's like we're voyeurs, not viewers, watching the details of someone else's life. I like it.

Annie practices her haunting techniques with George but she can't quite seem to get the hang of it. Especially if she wants to make Owen cry, beg, scream, and ultimately confess. She's such a sweet character and Owen is such a bastard it's difficult to conceive how she'll ever get to move on. Still, she feels ready enough to have George call Owen over with a fake plumbing complaint.

When Owen shows up he lets himself in. And finally comes face to face with the ghost of his murdered fiancee. At first Owen freaks. But as Annie gives a pretty decent rendition of the speech she was practicing with George, ending with a command for Owen to confess, something changes. Instead of being scared anymore he starts laughing. Then he starts mocking her. Annie is taken aback and visibly starts losing confidence, even flinching at his words. Owen clearly couldn't care less about her, dead or alive.

Later, after Owen leaves and George returns, Annie and George are left confused as to what she can do next. She decides she'd better pay Owen's new girlfriend, Janey, a visit, or else he'll eventually do the same thing to her that he did to Annie. When Mitchell finally shows up at home, Annie tries to tell him what's been going on but he's less than interested. I'm not sure what tips him off but George guesses that Mitchell is back with the other vampires. Mitchell tries to justify it, claiming it's different now--they're helping people. George and Annie can't believe what they're hearing. Mitchell goes off on an anti-human rant, claiming they're the real monsters and that he, George, and Annie could never be like them. As he speaks he points a knife for emphasis and as the camera focuses on the knife we get a glimpse of the dark side of Mitchell, something we haven't really seen. But he still doesn't seem truly bad. He's hurt and disenchanted and lost, and his actions are a response to that. Who hasn't been in his shoes? The problem is he can take his hurt feelings a lot further than the average person: For one, he can hand dying patients at the hospital over to Herrick for possible turning. Sure, they have the option of declining but how many people facing their own mortality would? How many would stop to really think about what the vampires are offering? Even Mitchell hasn't fully considered it.

Salvation for Mitchell arrives in the form of an old (literally) girlfriend, whom he runs into at the hospital. Now probably in her 60s or 70s, Josie is dying of lung cancer. She already knows about Mitchell so it's no big deal for him to suggest that Herrick speak with her. After all, Herrick wants people to turn and Mitchell wants to help someone he cares about. But afterwards Mitchell is surprised to find that Josie is less than impressed. She calls Herrick's offer a trick and claims the vampires are robbing people of their humanity by denying them mortality. She also says she believes that Mitchell asked Herrick to talk to her because Mitchell knew she would talk sense into him. Josie then finds George and warns him that not only is Mitchell in serious trouble but that the vampires are planning a major coup. Too bad George is at a complete loss about what to do.

After having his beliefs questioned by Josie, Mitchell goes looking for Herrick. Instead he finds a locked room in the basement of the vampires' lair. Breaking in he finds that the room is full of sickly, terrified people. They're been bled basically to death and one of them admits to Mitchell that when they arrived there were other peoples' clothes and toys already there. Creepy. Mitchell is horrified.

That's when Herrick and his goons find Mitchell and bring up a good point: what exactly did Mitchell think would happen once the vampires achieve their goal and all the humans are turned into vampires? They still have to eat and only fresh human blood works. It seemed pretty obvious to me that some people would have to be kept as, well, livestock but Mitchell acts like this is news to him. He announces that he can't do this and that he's out. But there's no walking away now. Mitchell realizes that Herrick will kill him and he accepts it.

Meanwhile, Annie's gone to warn Janey it's not working out so well. First Janey faints. Then she freaks and locks herself in the bathroom, where she refuses to believe anything Annie tells her. When Owen comes home Janey runs to him, crying and claiming she's losing her mind. He pretends he doesn't see Annie, all the while saying things to Janey that on the surface seem supportive but are actually meant to be hurtful to Annie. This is one seriously evil guy.

George comes home to a catatonic Annie on the sofa. She says that Owen's beaten her--she can't touch him. But George doesn't have time for self-pitying ghosts. He tells her that Mitchell needs her and if she can't get up to help him then she's done to herself what Owen could never do to her and she's finally dead. That does the trick. They head to the vampires' hangout even though they don't have a clue what they're going to do. They're greeted by Seth and tell him they want to see Herrick. Of course he refuses but there's an amusing exchange as he goes all fanboy over the fact that Annie is a ghost. George and Annie then bring out their pretty unimpressive fighting skills but they catch a break when Seth sees George's Star of David and shrinks back, giving George a chance to knock him out.

A minute later they burst in on Mitchell, Herrick and the other vampires and from there it's all chaos. They run through the building until Seth finally corners them. Out of nowhere he's staked from behind by Lauren. And the running starts again. When they get outside Lauren stops and tells Mitchell that she knows she's evil and she can't live like that anymore. Since Mitchell brought her into this world she wants him to take her out. At first he insists he can't do it but she basically begs him so he gives in, staking her. Just before she dies she says that Herrick needs to be stopped. It's a surprisingly touching and sad moment. After all the drama with Lauren I never expected her to be killed off, especially not by Mitchell.

It's a little surprising that the next scene features Owen, but it soon makes sense. He's brimming over with smugness as he lets himself into the house. Waiting for him inside are Annie, Mitchell, and George. He claims he got their message and then goes on a ridiculous diatribe about how getting away with murder has made him a god. It's pretty laughable when you consider who he's talking to but they keep silent as he goes on. Finally Annie speaks. She tells Owen he should have asked himself what else (besides ghosts) is out there. Her speech is much better this time, especially when she tops it off with whispering in his ear the "very worst thing in the world" that only the dead know. Then she advises him to find a safe place and never, ever turn off the light.

This time Owen leaves crying and freaking out, wandering the streets like someone caught in a really bad drug trip. Finally he ends up at a police station where he claims they need to keep him safe. See, he killed his girlfriend and now she lives with a vampire and a werewolf and they're going to torture him so he needs to be kept safe. Well, guess that's the end of Owen. It's slightly anticlimactic--I would have liked to see him gibbering in a cell or encased in a strait jacket in a padded room but knowing he'll face justice will have to do.

Back at the house Annie refuses to tell the guys what she whispered to Owen. Instead she's wondering what's going to happen next. Suddenly her door to the other side appears. As George starts panicking about losing her she doesn't want to go through the door but she knows she really should. As she hugs the guys and is about to open the door, there's suddenly a knock. She and George scream and Mitchell ends up laughing because the knock came from their front door. He decides Annie can't leave while someone's knocking, so he answers it. And there's Herrick with a stake, which he proceeds to drive into Mitchell's chest.

Herrick can't come in so George slams the door on him. Mitchell is bleeding a lot and is clearly dying. Annie is panicking. George takes charge and calls for help while telling her to go through her door while she can. As Annie looks back and forth between her door and Mitchell the entire scene fades to white.

So did she go through? Is Mitchell going to be okay? How do you save a vampire who's been staked? And how the hell is anyone going to be able to stop Herrick? Don't you love a show that can keep you guessing?

Fang Files

Appearance: Human, until the vampire emerges--then pure black eyes and sharp, prominent fangs. A dead vampire turns to ash.

Strengths: Organized, loyal to one another.

Weaknesses: Cruelty, insistence on conformity. Stakes. They shrink back from religious symbols (e.g., a star of David). Can only be satisfied by fresh human blood.

Mythology: Vampires have lived in Bristol (UK) since the 1630s and have been prominent citizens in the government. A vampire needs an invitation into a private residence.

Sound Bites

Mitchell: [to Herrick and the other vampires] I just want to say thank you for taking me back. I've seen what humanity is really like and this is where I belong. I'm home now.

Herrick: Our very existence is a union of life and death.

Annie: [re: haunting Owen] It's not just about justice--it's more...jagged than that.

Mitchell: [re: turning people into vampires en masse] It's evolution.
Josie: Never a birth. Never a death. That's not evolution--that's full stop.

Mitchell: [As Annie is about to go through her door to the other side] You're lucky. Most people don't get a chance to say goodbye.
Annie: I know but...fucking hell!
George: You might want to have different last words.

Being Human (UK), Season 1 Episode 5. Written by Toby Whithouse. Directed by Colin Teague. From The BBC.