Finally, an After Dark movie that I actually liked. That was quite unexpected... not only because this year's crop of films is particularly dismal, but because this film features the 30 Days of Night-style vampires that I usually loathe. A group of kids break down on the way to Chicago and convince a truck driver to let them ride in his trailer. Too bad of them, the truck driver happens to be a food delivery service for a vampires. He takes them to an incredibly gothic abandoned slaughterhouse as a treat for his vampires masters to feast on. And then things go bad from there.
I found the build-up to the appearance of the vampires to be very well put together. The kids start out by partying in the trailer and acting like typical Hollywood horror movie teenagers. Soon, things begin to feel not right. The driver mysteriously answers their friend's cellphone and sounds odd. They discover the shipment in the truck is blood. They see nothing but graffiti-coated cement walls out of the small holes in the side of the trailer. Eventually, the back of the trailer flies open and reveals a large, dark, empty warehouse. They slowly explore the warehouse, looking for an exit, when suddenly the vampires begin their ferocious attack. It's a good build.
I also found the kids reactions to all of this to be pretty realistic. At first, some of them think they're on a hidden camera show. When it becomes clear the driver isn't going to stop the truck for them, they don't screw around and immediately attempt to call 911 (only to be knocked off the phone by a sharp turn). When they creep into the warehouse, they all bunch closely together as you would in real life, afraid to venture far from the group. Even with stock characters -- the jock, the nerd, the rich boy, etc. -- I found them to be fairly well-written.
What really sold me on the movie, though, was a small moment when Amber pins a little vampire to the ground and threatens him with a knife. He immediately changes from a snarling animal into a scared teenager. His whimpering performance is great and you begin to feel sorry for the little guy as he lies helpless under the heroine. It made me see these animal-like vampires in a new light. They're just acting that way because they think that's what they're supposed to do. In reality, they're just scared creatures who need to eat and breath like the rest of us.
The movie ends after just 77 minutes and rather abruptly, but I liked it enough not to let this bother me. (7/10)
Seconds Apart (2011) directed by Antonio Negret
Twins with the same power as the guy in the "Pusher" episode of The X-Files terrorize a town, except they need to hold hands Wonder Twins-style in order for the power to really work. They're classic psychopaths, but really want to be able to feel some kind of emotion like normal people. So, they use their super powers to make people hurt or kill themselves while filming the fun. They then watch the film at home in an attempt to generate some kind of emotional response to the images. It never works.
As with Dead Ringers, one twin is more sensitive and the other is more aggressive. Just like Dead Ringers, one finds a girlfriend and the other begins to get jealous. Just like Dead Ringers, they both end up dead in their home by the time the credits roll. The arc of the story is not at all surprising, though it is at times stupid. Why did Detective Lampkin so easily make the huge leap into the idea that the boys had magic mental powers? What would possess him to even think in that direction? It seems like a contrivance just to enable that character to pursue the twins. Why the massive killing spree after causing four kids to kill themselves? The twins were too smart not to realize the need to lay low, especially with an unusually keen detective on their tails. After causing their parents to mutilate and paralyze themselves, how did the twins survive? They appeared to be about two when this happened. Did their magic powers feed them and change their diapers, too? Ugh. Not a lot of effort was put into this story, I don't think. (5/10)