Directed by Bruce Orenstein
In a day and age when you think you’ve seen it all in terms of vampire flicks (they sparkle, they kill, they brood, they screw, they feed- we get it), along comes a little indie movie that shows that there’s always something new to do to mix things up a bit with the genre.
Case in point: Vamperifica, a brash new horror comedy that recently screened during last month’s Screamfest Film Festival. It’s centered around a flamboyant college kid who turns out to be the heir to the vampire throne and is forced to decide between the life he’s been given and the life he’s destined to lead.
At the beginning of Vamperifica we find out that Raven, the king of all vampires, has been reborn into the body of a struggling college kid and aspiring actor named Carmen (Yurkovic), who is frustrated with always being picked on by everyone around him. One day he notices that he’s being followed by two mysterious strangers by the names of Emily (Swencionis) and Campbell (James), who are vampires that have been searching for Raven’s soul for over 200 years.
Emily and Campbell plan to transform Carmen into the vampire heir they believe him to be, but things don’t go smoothly as Carmen’s BFF Tracy (Walker) and close friend Peter (Ward) throw their plan off track when they find out about Carmen’s destiny and fight back against the vamps in order to hold on to their friend (and his soul) for as long as they can.
On the surface Vamperifica may seem like all it has going for it is that it’s a quirky little horror comedy, but what I really dug about the story is that there’s a lot more going on simmering below the surface- the movie explores the ideas of bullying (without the preachiness) and acceptance but also managed to be heartfelt and funny while offering some pretty cool kills and good gore to boot. I also appreciated the fact that in Vamperifica the lead vampire is gay (without ever labeling him as such- kudos on the subtlety), making it a somewhat refreshing alternative to all the brooding vampires as of late that have made the vampire subgenre in horror feel a bit redundant these days.
In terms of performances the success of Vamperifica rests squarely on Yurkovic’s shoulders, and he mostly delivers in the flick. His character is a bit abrasive and uneven at first, but once the up-and-coming actor really gets to have some fun as he’s discovering his inner power, that’s when Carmen (and Yurkovic as an actor) really gets to shine. There’s also a fun little musical number in the flick (an homage to the “Buffy” episode “Once More With Feeling”) that works surprisingly well, and I’d love to see where the actor goes from here once this film finds its audience.
My only real issue with Vamperifica is its conclusion. While the rest of the movie’s story is pretty evenly paced, the last 15 minutes feel incredibly rushed, and a huge reveal in the third act comes off a bit hokey and just a little too coincidental, but overall it didn’t really ruin my experience with the film. If you can look past that, Vamperifica manages to entertain and definitely brings a lot to the table with its unique story and a likable cast of newcomers. While it’s definitely not a movie for everyone, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with Vamperifica once it nabs some distribution.