Sunday, January 12, 2014

Black Water Vampire (DVD Review) - Image Entertainment

Directed By: Evan Tramel
Written By: Evan Tramel
Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Danielle Lozeau, Andrea Monier
Color/82 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
Raymond Banks is a convicted killer responsible for murdering four women, a decade apart, to the day,  from each other over 40 years. The problem is Banks’ conviction was based on circumstantial evidence and he may not be responsible. A group of young filmmakers who grew up in fear of the Black Water Killer set out to discover the truth behind the murders and potentially free and innocent man.

The film makers set out to the area surrounding Black Water Woods to interview all sorts of eccentric locals, politicians and those associated with the case surrounding the murders. Eventually the crew heads into the woods to hike for days to find the area the bodies were found. When Rob, the annoying hipster douche soundman goes missing, the rest of the group begins to panic until they come face to face with the true monster in the woods responsible for the killings.

BLACK WATER VAMPIRE is yet another entry in the incredibly popular cycle of found footage horror films. The films are cheap and fast to make and require little in the way of set design or shooting locations. All of the clichés are here, from the arguing group getting lost in the woods, to the map disappearing and random symbols and spooky things happening at night. BLACK WATER VAMPIRE manages to freshen things up a bit by actually showing us something. While this is obviously largely influenced (and I’d go as far to say rips off) The Blair Witch Project, we actually get a good look at a monster here, which is a rarity in this genre. Unfortunately that takes a terribly fucking corny turn really fast. Sometimes less really is more.

This film also fails to do what needs to be done to make this a realistic film. The found footage genre is one that requires the viewer to suspend all disbelief. What we are watching is supposed to be real. This is the job of the filmmakers. When the sound recording quality is exactly the same all the way through the film, despite the sound man either not being introduced yet, or after he went missing, it is hard to believe that this was all recorded live. Hell, after Rob the soundman goes missing, the director of the group even begins to bitch about how shitty the camera’s on board microphone is and how it will sound like shit. Well good fucking job following through on that. Is that a minor nitpick? Possibly. It is just one that stood out to me the entire time I was watching the film. Also did they really need to create a serial killer rhyme that is a blatant ripoff of  “One, two, Freddys coming for you”? No, they didn’t and all it managed to do was make me groan in disapproval. BLACK WATER VAMPIRE is a typical example of the found footage genre, in that while it does manage to craft a story, it does so an a lazy uninspired way that is full of plot holes, annoying characters, clichés and “borrowing” enough from so many other films that I’m not sure I can count it on both hands. It is a shame because BLACK WATER VAMPIRE could have stood apart from the pack with a bit more inspiration. Taking a dozen popular modern horror films and throwing them into a pot together really isn’t the way to go about making a movie. I do have to mention that Bill Oberst Jr. is quite effective, giving an unsettling performance as the convicted killer.

The Audio & Video
Image Entertainment gives BLACK WATER VAMPIRE a rather gorgeous DVD treatment. I don’t think this anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer could look any better without being on Blu-ray. Colors shine and details is strong. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track sounds terrific as well, even if it is detrimental to the film itself at times. You can’t fault that on the technical side of the disc though, and this is an excellent job.


The Extras
The lone feature on the disc is a very short behind-the-scenes featurette, where the cast members are interviewed and some outtakes are shown.

The Bottom Line
If you’re a big fan of the found footage genre you’ll probably enjoy BLACK WATER VAMPIRE. Give it a rental to test the waters. Pun absolutely intended.


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