Episode Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Michael Ironside, Jodelle Ferland, Arjay Smith
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
And just what is the V word? Vicious, perhaps? Viscosity? Vulva? Sadly, no. The V word is, in actuality, vampire. Anyone who’s familiar with my tastes knows just how much I love vampires.
That was sarcasm.
I gave this episode a chance though; director Dickerson has done two solid genre pics in the past (the excellent Demon Knight and the not-as-bad-as-it-should’ve-been Bones) so I was happy to see him trying his hand at the short form format and getting bestowed a “Masters” title. The presence of Mike Ironside doesn’t hurt either as he’s one of my favorite character actors, period. Unfortunately, there’s just nothing new offered up in “The V Word,” no matter how much promise it may seem to have at first.
The story begins when two friends break into a mortuary late at night to try and get a look at a guy they knew who recently died. The implication is that they’re both horror freaks and to see a “real dead body” would be the ultimate thrill for them.
They get into the exceedingly creepy building but are soon so freaked out due to a combination of too many horror movies and not enough real-world experience with the dead that they’re desperate to just see what they came to see and get the hell out. Things go badly when they stumble upon a vampire (Ironside) in the midst of his meal, and one of them is chewed apart, the other fleeing the scene and preparing to deal with some major guilt issues.
When the chewed friend shows up the next day though, the unchewed friend tries to get an ambulance, only for his friend to fall down and die … and get right back up again. What follows is your standard “friend is a vampire and wants me to be one, too” scenario complete with massively heavy-handed dialogue (most of it from the friends, but some shockingly from Ironside, which makes it even more corny) and dramatic poses.
When they first stumble on vampire Ironside feeding, his look and mannerisms are extremely brutal and primal, which would’ve been a nice touch if Dickerson had stuck with it, making them vicious killing machines who only want to destroy, not monologuing bloodsuckers. Unfortunately, as soon as the kids become involved, things take a turn for the dramatic and not in a good way. Though the directing is solid and the look of it is very slick, nothing else really stands out from “The V Word.”
The aforementioned dialogue was a big issue for me, especially since when we’re first introduced to the friends, their rapport and relationship seem very realistic, busting one another’s balls with the best of intentions and actually talking like you’d expect two college kids (though I guess they’re supposed to be in high school … they sure don’t look it) would. As soon as the vampire element is thrown in though, all they can do is spout ramblings about the music of the night and the hunger and how “we must feed.” It’s all been done a thousand times before, and it’s never done a damn thing for me.
It’s too bad that an episode that stared off with some promise of at least giving us something newish (because, lets face it, it’s all been done to undeath with vampire films) turned into just another dull vampire story that woefully underused the talents of Michael Ironside and forced him to say some truly horrific dialogue. But then, what would I expect from a vampire film?
2 out of 5
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