Bonding over Blockbuster video and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie, not the series), wannabe vampire hunters Stewart (J.R. Timothy) and Everitt (Taylor Nielson) are down on their luck. Despite a decade-long commitment to hunting the undead, the two have not had anything resembling success. When the two best friends finally meet a real vampire (Wren Barnes), they quickly realize how underprepared they are. Armed with a mix of confidence and, stupidity our bumbling vampire hunters are off to bring death to bloodsuckers in this improv-heavy mockumentary.
Vampires Are Real, directed by J.R. Timothy and written by him and Wren Barnes, opens with Stewart and Everitt doing an extended interview on their experiences with vampires, which is to say, precisely zero. The friends reminisce about their days in high school, break down the rules of hunting the undead, and inform us their safe word is “Vincent Price.” It is a lot of information to digest, yet the scene is essentially the two actors, Timothy and Nielson, riffing about vampires for fifteen minutes straight.
After the opening interview with the would-be vampire hunters, the film takes viewers into an investigation of the undead. The two sharpen stakes, play an intense game of hide and seek, and eventually happen upon a vampire in the park. Do the slackers have what it takes to slay a vamp in the flesh? Only the power of friendship will tell.
“…bumbling vampire hunters are off to bring death to bloodsuckers…”
Your enjoyment of Vampires Are Real will depend entirely on your fondness for improv comedy. Almost every moment is improvised, down to the climax. When considering the spontaneous dialogue and the minimal budget, the film is an intriguing watch. The micro-budget and constant ad-libbing reminded me of early, first-wave YouTube videos. The film even has that same spastic, semi-random vibe that made early YouTube so much fun.
However, no matter how far the unique premise or YouTube nostalgia takes things, the comedic bits go on for way too long. Even when the scenes are good and, the dialogue is flowing, the scene continues three jokes too long, then five more lines happen…and then ten more after that. I love the premise of a mockumentary about vampire slayers. I love director J.R. Timothy’s vision of buddy vampire killers, but this could benefit from some serious editing.
There is an audience for Vampires Are Real out there. The film is unique, fun, and, after the massive success of What We Do in the Shadows, it just makes sense. However, this story and style of comedy are much better suited for a web series. Something that can maximize the micro-budget and let the actors explore the depths of their improv. Throughout this two-hour production, I was constantly checking my watch as time slowly ticked on by. But if sliced up into three to five-minute webisodes like The Guild, I would tune in every week.
"…love director J.R. Timothy's vision..."