Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Chris Riggi, Diedrick Bader, Ken Leong
Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
The scam artists responsible for Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie are back with their latest con, Vampires Suck, one of those rare movies with a self-reviewing title. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are widely reviled as the most untalented filmmaking hacks in the business today. That the DVDs for some of their previous crimes against cinema have boasted commentary tracks of film critics ripping on how terrible their films are only cements my belief that they are con men that know they’re untalented hacks and don’t care because they’ve found some success with their special brand of cheap, lazy, crudely constructed comedies so depressingly unfunny they leave you longing for the comparatively upbeat nature of a Lars von Trier movie.
For the remainder of this review I will refer to Friedberg & Seltzer simply as “F&S” for short. F&S is kind of like S&M, except there are actually people that derive pleasure from the pain generated by S&M. If you know anyone that derives pleasure from F&S, those people are to be shunned for the betterment of mankind.
The mental anguish of Vampires Suck began immediately with a hopelessly incompetent opening sequence that wraps around to the climax set at the high school prom. The alleged jokes in this pre-title portion included teenage girls representing “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” hitting one another with shovels, a naked sparkling vampire with a glimmering disco ball covering his privates, a vampire drinking a bottle of “True Blood”, another vampire applying suntan lotion, and a vampire revealing a single triangular fang like that you’d see on a vampire chipmunk, which, by the way, we will actually get one of later on. By the time the title appeared on the screen, I was fully prepared for an experience about as enjoyable as teabagging a blender.
The one thing working in these grifters’ favor is this time they have an actual structure to build upon (key scenes and plot points from the first two Twilight movies) unlike, say, their previous sham, Disaster Movie, the first ever full-length motion picture based around parodying scenes from the trailers of movies that had yet to open at the time of filming. Doesn’t change the fact that the best they can come up with still produces fewer laughs than b-roll footage from a snuff film.
Twilight is so rife for parodying; yet, these two cinema swindlers consistently miss their target by relying on their usual disarray of jokes that are just excuses to make a pop culture reference regardless of its lack of context, jokes that go for lowest common denominator punch lines, jokes they run into the ground even after they flopped the first time, jokes meant to make you groan that still end up doing so for the wrong reasons, jokes that actually require the actors to explain the joke and why it’s supposed to be funny, and I lost track of the sheer number of times I was expected to laugh just because someone got randomly hit hard in the head, face, or back. Even understanding what makes basic slapstick work is asking too much of F&S. They also operate under the mistaken assumption that if someone angrily shouts “bitch” at the end of a sentence, that automatically makes the line funny. They even end their movie in such a manner.
Moody teenage heroine Bella Swan, sullen vampire Edward Cullen, and angst-ridden teen wolf Jacob Black have been cleverly renamed Becca Crane, Edward Sullen, and Jacob White. The town of Forks, Washington is now named Sporks. This is as clever as it gets.
“Just your breathing is the greatest gift you could ever give me,” says vampire Edward, crouched over a sleeping Becca. Then she farts in his face, and he tumbles backwards out of her bedroom window.
“We only feed on animals and the Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
“Once you go bat, you never go back”
“Promise me, Becca, that you won’t do anything reckless.”
“I promise I won’t date Chris Brown.”
Their big joke with werewolf Jacob is that he turns into a chihuahua instead of a wolf. Do they have him do anything funny as a chihuahua? Nope. Nothing. Nada. Why try being creative when you can just have the other members of his pack, shirtless, wearing only sneakers and jorts, dancing gay to “It’s Raining Men”? Didn’t they recycle that “It’s Raining Men” scene from Meet the Spartans? Even if they hadn’t, that was really the best joke, let alone best gay joke, they could dream up? Did they sit around debating for hours between having them dance to “It’s Raining Men” or “Who Let the Dogs Out” and decide on the former because the cheaper gay joke required less actual thought?
How do they parody Dakota Fanning’s character and her psychic ability to inflict indescribable pain (much like what I felt during the pre-title and third act of this film)? They don’t. They found a way to shoehorn in pointless references to “Jersey Shore”, “Gossip Girl”, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Alice in Wonderland, and so on (shockingly, no Justin Bieber jokes!), but a single gag mocking an aspect of Twilight begging for riffing was somehow asking too much.
Another gag sees Edward fighting off a pair of vampires by tossing them into tanning beds, their legs shown twitching as they roast. But these are Twilight vampires and Twilight vampires aren’t supposed to burn in sunlight – they sparkle, a conceit F&S had already poked fun at twice by the time of this scene. These two are such inept writers I wouldn’t even trust them to write a check.
So many opportunities are missed it reached the point I found myself thinking what I might have done with certain scenes. Like when the evil redheaded vampire based on the Victoria character from Twilight gets written out of the film never to be seen again; the dreadlocked vampire holds up a photo of Bryce Dallas Howard (who replaced the original Victoria actress in the latest Twilight sequel) and makes a comment – not a joke – about how the role had been recast. They thought that would generate laughs? How about saying the role has been recast and then have Clint Howard (Bryce Dallas Howard’s real-life uncle) emerge in drag dressed as Victoria? Maybe it would have gotten a laugh, maybe it wouldn’t, but at least it would have been an attempt at an actual pun rather than just a lame observation masquerading as a punchline.
Perhaps the only unintentional success of Vampires Suck was that I often couldn’t tell the difference between the two leads in this parody and their actual Twilight counterparts. I dare say newcomer Jenn Proske does a better Bella Swan than Kristen Stewart, and I’d even go so far to say she’s prettier, too. Matt Lanter’s tongue-in-cheek take on every teenage girl’s undead albino wet dream isn’t all that different from Robert Pattinson aside from Lanter looking less like someone experiencing nicotine withdrawal and, of course, his lack of eyebrows that can double for Seventies porn mustaches. I fully expect to see these two in better films in the future, although given this is Lanter’s second session in the F&S dungeon, having previously starred in Disaster Movie, maybe not.
Vampires Suck is a pathetic reminder of how the art of the spoof movie has been all but lost since about 1995. A Jonas Brothers joke was the only line that garnered so much as a faint chuckle out of me, possibly because it was one of the only in a myriad of lame pop culture of the moment jokes that actually had a set-up and some context to it. To see how the comedic talents of Diedrich Bader and Ken Jeong go to waste here is nothing short of criminal. Ah, hell, the whole movie is a crime. Scam artists, I tell you.
Before anyone tries to argue that I’m not the right person to judge Vampires Suck because I’m not a member of the target demographic, I dragged my 16-year-old Twilight-loving niece along with me into this movie hell. She hated it so much it may have actually cured of her of her love for all things Twilight. I only heard her laugh once, and whenever I glanced over to gauge her reaction to the drivel we were watching, she appeared disgusted. Somewhere around the midpoint she leaned over to ask how much longer it would go on; from then on I noticed that she sat arms folded and stone-faced until the ordeal was finally over. Asking her what she thought afterwards, her one-sentence review muttered in a hushed yet very stern voice, “It was foul!” When I jokingly suggested we watch it again, she shot me such an icy stare that if looks could kill, this review would be my epitaph.
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