Watching a movie directed by the Butcher Brothers means you are just asking for trouble and there is plenty of that in ‘The Thompsons’, the follow-up from an earlier, if somewhat more amateurish offering called ‘The Hamiltons’. Actually, their real name isn’t Butcher at all, it’s the duo Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, also responsible for ‘April Fools’ Day’ and ‘The Violent Kind’.
You would think that we have all had enough of vampires to satiate any desire for flowing red blood but, here we are, still on the same bandwagon, perpetuating the myth that has almost gained reality status in the minds of many. These vampires are mortal and they are not afraid of daylight. Bestowed with super-strength, agility and speed, they do appear in mirrors and security cameras and have a desire to drink blood. They need victims and, in order to survive, they find it necessary to murder ordinary humans. There are vampires like the Thompsons, formerly the Hamiltons, who are sometimes reluctant to do this but there are others, including the vampire clan, The Stuarts, who actually enjoy the experience and take great delight and sport from brutally murdering innocent victims.
It all begins innocently enough with a young couple frolicking in the woods who get their throats ripped open by shadowy figures singing a good old British song. Meanwhile, Francis Hamilton (Cory Knauf) walks along a country road, having abandoned his smoking vehicle. He ends up just outside Ludlow and enters a good old country tavern. As you would expect, as soon as he enters the place goes quiet and heads turn in his direction. Not all is wrong because a young attractive lady by the name of Riley Stuart (Elizabeth Henstridge) takes his fancy in a rather seductive manner. Next thing we know, Francis is entombed inside a wooden box!
Through a series of flashbacks, we go to America discovering the history of the Thompsons, four brothers and a sister, including an altercation at a desert petrol station where youngest brother Lenny (Ryan Hartwig) is very seriously injured. In order to save his vampire life, they travel to Europe to seek out someone called Manderson who can save him, residing next to Ludlow. Without spoiling the movie, the innkeeper isn’t all that nice and a war between vampires ensues. The question now is, who will win?
Okay, we’ve had a surfeit of vampires in recent years. Too many to be exact and the whole business becomes rather mundane and ridiculous. There’s just no way that so many brutal murders could go unnoticed by the authorities and media! Just look how much media attention was paid to the terrible events when a family was assassinated in France recently! Of course, it’s fantasy adventure but being an old traditionalist who thinks all vampires are rubbish since Christopher Lee got a stake through the heart by Peter Cushing, maybe I am biased.
There is definitely a Hammer feel to this movie, especially with the setting being in rural England. I’m sure this was intentional. You would almost think that it was made in the 70s! Such an aura certainly adds validity to this professionally made movie. The acting throughout its pretty good with believable scenes and direction that is easy to follow. While there are plenty of ravishingly attractive young ladies in some of the scenes, you know that it’s all going to end in disaster when someone takes a bite too far!
I thought there was a good performance by Daniel O’Meara, the leader of the Stuart Clan, and also Sean Cronin who plays Cyrus, a vampire henchman and ruthless murderer. Cyrus is definitely a person you would not want to meet. There was a feeling at the end of the movie that there was more to come and indeed there could be a possibility of a sequel or even a TV series.
One problem I discovered was an inability to identify or sympathise with any of the characters. The Thompsons are supposed to be the main dudes, the people we go along with. They only kill because it’s necessary, while the other vampires kill because they like the experience. In my mind, they are both a bad bunch who need the presence of a good vampire slayer to finish them off. In essence, it’s very difficult to be sympathetic towards a vampire especially when we’ve got the Income Tax Inspector getting in their fangs first. We just got no blood left.
Overall, this is a good movie and while it is not overly original, it’s well made enough to overcome any such flaws in the script. If you are into vampires, you will be delighted. Certainly one to get your teeth into!