“Tainted” doesn’t get off to a good start; I’m weary of any narrative film that begins with a quote, especially one by Sarah McLachlan. The opening scene sets the movie up to be a typical vampire flick; a pasty white complected, dark haired man in a trench coat (who is later revealed to be a vampire named Slain) stalks and kidnaps a fellow vampire who is shopping for meat in a grocery store. Slain (Jason Brouwer) then chains the vampire up, ties him to the roof of his car and drains his blood into a plastic bottle. However, like many an opening to “Moonlighting”, the film quickly changes gears as Ryan (Greg James), J.T. (Sean Farley) and Alex (Dusan Cechvala) are introduced the movie becomes a homage of sorts to Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith. For a vampire film, “Tainted” sure has a lot of dialogue.
Ryan is J.T.’s childhood friend and Alex is newly employed at Video Zone, J.T.’s video rental store. The three decide to ride together to see the midnight showing of “Blade Runner”. In the car they have a conversation in the style of “Reservoir Dogs” about the addictive nature of eye drops and the conspiracy surrounding the issue. Unfortunately (sarcasm), the conversation is cut short when Alex’s car breaks down. After being turned away by a gas station attendant with a rather unfriendly attitude, who is also in a rush to see the extremely popular “Blade Runner” screening, the crew is forced to walk to get help from Alex’s x-girlfriend, Adia (Tina Kapousis). After a lengthy conversation about the heroic abilities of Harrison Ford, the three friends are stopped by a small knife-wielding gang of thugs, Alex reveals he is a vampire when he bites the bullies on the neck and kills them. By this point it is fully obvious that Ryan is a misogynist, J.T. is overly critical and neurotic and Alex is a wimpy vampire who had his teeth shaved down, but can still fatally bite people. J.T. and Ryan decide that although Alex is a vampire, it probably isn’t a big deal to continue to hang out with him and they resume the journey. Aida turns out to be a vampire and a drunk, but Alex still has a thing for her and they share some very uncomfortable dialog with a nauseating and depressing song playing in the background.
Aida, out of guilt for being a drunken w***e, allows Alex and his crew to borrow her new boyfriend Slain’s car and the guys are back on the road to the cinema. However, it’s not long before they discover a dead body in Slain’s trunk, along with a cooler full of blood, which Alex determines is vampire blood. Apparently any vampire willing to turn on another vampire is nothing but trouble. Alex calls Aida to warn her that something strange is going on, but in the meantime Slain has woken up, discovered his car is missing and overheard Aida’s phone conversation with Alex. Needless to say, Slain kills Aida and flees the scene before Alex can save her. This leads to a long and grossly sentimental scene with Alex stretched across Aida’s dead body on a beige leather couch. Once composed, Alex and his new friends go through Slain’s room and piece together evidence that he is headed to kill another vampire via the contents of a spiral notebook. After a small bit of coercion from Alex (“You shouldn’t HAVE to help”, “Just like Bob Saget shouldn’t be dating Dana Delany”), J.T. and Ryan agree to assist Alex in his mission to track down the evil vampire.
It’s off to an underground vampire bar to uncover the whereabouts of the next vampire victim on Slain’s list. It is at this point that the line “Hey, it’s Bram Stoker’s Cheers” is spoken, there is even a short pause in dialog to allow for laughter; I used the time to dry heave. Alex manages to acquire the address of the next potential victim from a heavyset gay vampire and the team heads off to save the world. The vampire in danger obviously shops at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, as there is a cinnamon broom on the front door of his house. The gang doesn’t quite make it in time; instead they find the gudgeon dead with his ear shoved in his mouth. Unsuccessful, the three head off to a restaurant to talk some more. It’s around this point in the film when the audience gets yet another word of wisdom, “Clichés only get to be clichés when they’re true”; I haven’t learned so much since “Felicity” was cancelled. Finally putting all of the pieces together over drinks, Alex, J.T. and Ryan uncover Slain’s dubious plans for the cooler full of vampire blood and they venture to stop him.
The acting in “Tainted” is shaky (Brouwer does the best job), the film is too long, the script is mediocre at best, the dialogue is awkward at times, and the lighting is weak. The movie is shot in Detroit so you’re not going to see any beautiful scenery (sorry, it’s an easy target) but, ultimately, “Tainted” is somehow genuinely entertaining. I gave it three stars because, despite all it’s faults, I liked it anyway. After all, regardless of the trying-too-hard dialog and lack of action or gore, it is just a vampire film and a fairly decent one at that.