23rd Mar2014

‘Black Water Vampire’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Danielle Lozeau, Bill Oberst Jr., Andrea Monier, Anthony Fanelli, Robin Steffen | Written and Directed by Evan Tramel

BWV-cast

Raymond Banks has been locked up and certified criminally insane for the murders of four women whose bodies were brutalised and dumped in the woods, but Andrea Adams thinks the police have got it wrong and she’s taking her film crew to find out the truth. What they find there can only be told by the footage left behind. Who or what is responsible for a series of brutal killings, where the victims’ bodies have been found drained of blood in Black Water Creek?

Right you know the drill, let’s get the usual statement out of the way first. Black Water Vampire is – wait for it – a found footage flick. And as you know all too well by now, I hate (the majority of) found footage flicks… However, there are two reasons I was willing to give this particular film a go – one, it’s the first time, at least that I’m aware of, that found footage and vampire lore have been brought together in one film; and two, the film stars Bill Oberst Jr., one of the unsung heroes of the modern horror scene, as the alleged killer Raymond Banks.

What is interesting about Black Water Vampire is that it tackles its subject from a documentary perspective, which means the format feels more realistic than your typical “teens running round with a camera for no reason” format that has plagued the genre since its inception. It also has a truly believable cast whose dialogue all seems very much like the responses you would see in an actual amateur documentary – from the talking heads interviews they film to Danielle and her crew, everyone’s performance feels natural and, best of all, real.

Unlike a lot of its found footage brethren, Black Water Vampire also focuses on the cast and the story. A lot of the lesser found-footage genre movies see there mission as one of terrifying the audience through confusion and jump scares – you know the type: tons of shaky-cam followed by a brief shot of whatever particular monster is the villain of the piece. Well this film takes the genre back to its Blair Witch roots, telling it story organically and building into a terrifying tale rather than forcing its hand.

Of course the film isn’t entirely without fault. For one it follows the Blair Witch format a little too strictly, at times coming across as a pastiche of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s 199 movie. And then there’s the pacing. By now audiences are familiar with the found footage format and it takes a little more that talking heads to keep them entertained which, unfortunately, means the hour or so of mundanity really does start to drag.

However here’s where Black Water Vampire differs from it 90s found-footage counterpart. It actually shows its “monster” as writer/director Evan Tramel unleashes the titular vampire on the audience (well actually on the cast as it eats its way through the film crew) in the last twenty minutes or so. But the big surprise? Well that’s left to the fucked up ending coda…

Black Water Vampire makes its UK DVD debut on 24 March 2014 from Image Entertainment.

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