A TOOTHY GRIN WITH SOME BITE
Movie Review – Living Among Us
Review by Ray Schillaci
Somewhere between reality TV and faux documentary emerges (with painfully toothless beginnings) writer/director Brian A. Metcalf’s investigation on “real” vampires, Living Among Us. Sadly, for those that are impatient, you may tune out after the first five minutes or so of poorly conceived news broadcasts. It’s painfully bad. In fact, the worst one features the director as “Paul” the anchorman. Why he ever thought he could cast himself in the part is beyond anybody’s wildest imagination. But, soon after a news crew visits the vampire family abode, a sense of humor creeps in with an uneasy eerie feeling, and Living Among Us ends up quenching the thirst of many vampire lovers.
The scenario: vampires now reside among us, but little is known about them. A spokesperson for the vampires, Samuel, played with a smarmy flavor by William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption, 2007’s The Mist) assures newscasters and the public that vampires are safe to live among humans. But, it takes a documentary crew to visit a relatively “normal” vampire family to attempt to drive the point home before there is talk of driving stakes somewhere else.
Aside from this being very similar to IFC’s 2010 vampire entry where a documentary crew is invited into a Belgium vampire community’s dwelling of one toothy family in Vampires, Metcalf’s movie attempts to dispel many of the myths. We don’t see the fangs. The vampires scoff at the old wives’ tales, and come across as if they are trying to assimilate better than the vampires from the 2010 entry.
But, it’s hard not to compare the pictures when the theme is so similar and the 2010 film has a wickeder sense of humor with a creep factor that can make your skin crawl. Ah, then there is the one stand out in Metcalf’s film that makes it all the worth watching…actor John Heard (Prison Break, Cutter’s Way) as Andrew, the patriarch of the vampire family. Heard (in one of his last performances) gives the film his all with sardonic wit and an underlying evil presence that makes us uneasy at best.
There are other cast members that play well in the darkness. Esmé Blanco (Game of Thrones, The Magicians) seems to be channeling actress Gloria Holden from Dracula’s Daughter, and she’s very effective, while Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie) as the lead documentarian, and those that play his crew, actually are believable in their jittery nerves and outright scares. My only qualm was actor Andrew Keegan (10 Things I Hate About You) as the irascible vampire, Blake. Many in the audience appeared to really enjoy his sassiness and look-at-me persona, but I could not help feel I was watching an imitation of Robert Downey Jr. playing a blood sucker bad boy with charm and a huge ego.
With such a glut of vampire media out there, it’s surprising that writer/director Metcalf was able to conjure up the talent and a half-way decent tale that keeps our interest till the very end. It’s just sad that the film is marred by the poor newscasts that appear to belong in a z-grade picture rather than the fun “B” that delivers some worthy chills and thrills. Living Among Us does not have us give “fangs for the memories,” but it does deliver some bite.
Directed by: Brian A. Metcalf
Release Date: February 2, 2018
Run Time: 87 Minutes
Distributor: Vision Films