Stan (Jay Jay Warren) is living with his grandfather Ellis (Timothy Bottoms) on the edge of the woods. When neighbor Bane (Frank Whaley) is bitten by a vampire while hunting, he decides to snooze the day away in Ellis’s shed. This brings nothing but problems for Stan, as Bane tends to munch on anything that comes near him. It does however give his friend Dommer (Cody Kostro) some ideas for dealing with the bullies who have been hounding him.
The opening is suspiciously saccharine, with Stan’s mother waking him for breakfast: “Saturday means pancakes, your favorite.” His parents (Caroline Duncan and Sal Rendino) affectionately tease him about kissing his best gal Roxy (Sofia Happonen) at the Sadie Hawkins dance. This turns out to be a dream, setting the tone for the film as more reflective of harsh reality. The trailer makes it look like a straight-up horror comedy, but there’s a lot of teen angst going on. Stan’s a step away from juvenile hall, Roxy’s stepfather hits her mother, and Dommer loses his shit completely because of being harassed at school. The scene when he corners head bully Marble (Chris Petrovski), venting about what an asshole Marble is to him, is heartbreaking.
The odd creature hiding in the shed brings to mind ET, and while the era it takes place in isn’t definitively specified (I decided mid-’90s, as Stan uses a Walkman, has a stack of cassette tapes, and spends time moping over physical photographs, and all the high school kids are wearing flannels–plus one of the taglines is “Don’t go there”), it has an ’80s feel. It’s easily comparable to Fright Night and The Lost Boys and other teenage-boy-fights-vampires movies–at least in terms of plot points.
I’m sure the filmmakers didn’t set out to be racist, but the only people of color in the movie are cruel, cowardly, or stupid. (Though I have to admit, there is a shortage of likable characters–all the protagonists are white, though.) We have bully Pitt (Francisco Burgos), who shows up in the thick of the vampire battle and has to be saved by the guy he came to beat up. There’s Deputy Haiser (Mu-Shaka Benson), who shows up in one scene to hassle Stan and then disappears for the rest of the movie. And then the mean girl who hangs out with Roxy briefly; going by the credits, she has a name, either Christy or Donna, but I don’t know which she’s supposed to be. Oh and let’s not forget the Ancient Vampire (Damian Norfleet) from the very beginning, who’s so interested in biting Bane that he doesn’t notice the sun’s coming up. (Though to be fair, none of these are suit-wearing, erudite vampires–they’re more like if Nosferatu were also a werewolf.)
Women fare little better. Sheriff Dorney (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) is pegged by Ellis as not very bright, and she doesn’t prove him wrong. Aside from her and dead pancake-makin’ Mom, we have Roxy. She provides emotional support and wet dream material (this movie has way too many goddamn dream sequences) when she materializes in Stan’s room as a character from the poster on his wall, Satanic Sorority Sluts. She helps some in the fight, but not before whimpering uselessly in the corner as the vampire advances on her. Not to mention the scene when she’s supposed to be securing the perimeter, but she stops to peruse Stan’s old pictures of her.
Gripes aside, I do have to appreciate Stan’s goodheartedness. One of the taglines for the movie is “Beware the evil within.” On the surface it refers to the shed, but it can also be extended to the potential evil inside a person. Dommer loses his humanity in his obsession with hurting the people who hurt him, but Stan never does. Even though he has as much reason to hate the bullies as Dommer, Stan still shows compassion for them.
Overall, I’m not sorry I watched it, or even that I paid ninety-nine cents to do so on demand. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for beastly vampires and flawed characters.