In a cinematic landscape where the vampire sub-genre is populated with constant reworking and, more specifically, buggered half to death by Twilight, The Thompsons, the sequel to 2006’s The Hamiltons, is a rough but charming pick-me-up.
The Thompsons picks up the brutal family’s story as they escape the US, after a bloodbath puts them on the wanted list, to hide out in the UK. Desperate for some kind of protection in this new country, they set out to find a shadowy group rumoured to be sympathetic to vampires.
The scope of The Butcher Brothers’ latest effort is one of the things that marks it out from your average vampire film, dotting from the US to UK and a peek at two family members’ exploits in France helps make the film feel bigger than it actually is. It’s a road movie after a squalid one-set affair, just like Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, the epic follow-up to House of a Thousand Corpses. The narrative style of jumping back to fill in the blanks and show us how Francis Hamilton (Cory Knauf) ends up captured is, at first, intriguing but eventually lends a disorganized flow to the plot. If you really consider it, aspects of the film (excluding the existence of vampires obviously) strain believability; parts of the plot seem to rely on not looking too deep into the characters. For careful viewers this film may anger, for die-hard vamp fans, who can abandon critical viewing, this is a nice slice of brutal fun, since the one thing the film isn’t is boring.
At a run-time of one hour seventeen minutes there’s little time to doddle around so the pace reconciles by keeping the characters on the go. The action is quirky and the gore can be gruesome, but the dialogue is the major weakness of the piece: lacing an otherwise enjoyable affair with so much cliché and cheese you‘d think it’s funny. But that encapsulates the film, some good scenes mirrored by woeful one’s: Francis’ arrival at the pub is pretty tense, then there’s a bizarre barn dance where nobody seems to know why they are there.
An earlier sequence showing two of the British killers hunting alludes to a more sinister and unnerving aspect that, in its haste, the film neglects. Which is a shame when you’re watching a horror movie. Even when the film gathers a bit of momentum and throws itself at a climax well-setup, the end fight throws a wobbly, looking jittery and anti-climactic. Fluid camera work and careful editing keep previous scraps visceral so the end seems a lazy mistake. After a bloody finale, the film very quickly swaps rails and goes back to being poignant and open, leaving the story not-quite-finished.
Parts of the film are unrealised, others have the right idea, but a generally woeful dialogue drags down an otherwise well-conceived film. The Thompsons is a faulted but brutally enjoyable vampire flick that has its eyes set somewhere beyond your run-of-the-mill sex and death extravaganza. Recommended for horror fans who like their movies with a dollop of cheese.
Dir. Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores (The Butcher Bros)
Stars. Cory Knauf, Samuel Child, Mackenzie Firgins, Joseph McKelheer, Sean Cronin