Vampires can best be summed up by saying that vampires are in the film, and they spend most of their time either chasing, being chased, or fighting with humans. And when they are fighting, the attempts to kill one another are incredibly violent, over-the-top, and somehow, boring. There’s something monotonous about a vampire clawing and slashing his way through dozens of people, while the humans fight back with a crossbow, guns and wooden stakes. Yawn.
The story initially follows a team of vampire hunters who have found a “nest” where they believe a bunch of vampires are hiding. They do find vampires there, and after a large fight, they seemingly kill them all. 9 in total, if you’re wondering. This pleases them, so they have a party. Guess who shows up — another vampire, of course! But this one’s harder to kill, and before you know it, 19 people are dead. But the squad leader, James Woods makes it out, and so does his best friend. They also rescue a girl who has been bitten by the strong vampire. They rescue her because somehow she gains a telepathic connection with the vampire that bites her, and they hope to use her to locate him.
The big bad vampire gets to use the name “Valek”, and is supposedly the oldest vampire ever, the first of his kind, and he has a personal grudge against James Woods because of something that gets explained later in the film. A betrayal factors in, if I remember correctly. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s only there to set-up the inevitable final showdown between Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith is under all of that makeup) and James Woods. And if you are hoping for an all-out action scene, you’ll probably end up disappointed.
That’s probably one of the bigger problems with Vampires; the action scenes at the start and in the middle are better than the finale of the film. And even when they’re better, they still aren’t that good. They’re marred by poor special effects and a lack of originality, which really hurts how fun they are to watch. They’re overly gruesome though, so if gore is your thing then you’ll probably still get some kick out of them.
Not having great effects or action scenes would be forgivable if the film was scary, had a decent story or had characters and dialogue that you could get into. The opening scene of the film is kind of scary, but that’s about as good as it gets. There aren’t many other scares throughout, and there isn’t even much tension. The lack of tension occurs because you won’t care about any of these characters, and at times may even wish for them to die or get bitten so that you don’t have to listen to them anymore.
The dialogue is also poorly written and delivered. All of it consists of ways to advance the plot, unnecessary profanity, or a failed joke. There isn’t any depth given to the characters, and this leads to you feeling nothing for them. There is also an aspect of the film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, (I guess this is where the joking comes in), but these moments detract from what could work as a serious film, but instead tries to balance the over-the-top “I’m not taking this project seriously” side with the “Serious, savage, vampire flick” side. The result is an inconsistently toned and paced film that is never exactly what it wants to be.
I will give the people who did the makeup and gore designs their props though, because they did a good job. The vampires certainly look like bloodthirsty savages, while the fun stuff that comes out of a human body after it has been ripped to shreds looks the part. Actually having the people ripped apart looks really fake and cheesy, but that almost comes with the territory in my eyes. But only almost. If the film hadn’t taken itself as seriously as it usually does, then these types of effects might have worked. As it is, it doesn’t work, and makes the project seem cheap.
Vampires didn’t impress me like I had hoped it would. The vampires it features are brutal, yes, but that and the makeup applied to their faces are just about the best things I can say about the film. It’s not scary, it doesn’t feature characters you’ll care about, and the writing was terrible. At times, it plays out like it wants to make fun of the genre, but most of the time it takes itself too seriously for shoddy special effects to not appear like the film was incredibly low-budget. It’s not bad enough to laugh at and have fun that way, but it’s not enjoyable enough to actually be called “good”. It’s forgettable and ultimately pointless, so I say to skip it.