01st Dec2017

‘Vampariah’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kelly Lou Dennis, Aureen Almario, Alex Benjamin, I-Li Chang Brice, Jason Bustos, Gemma Padua Calderon, Kevin Camia, Bo Campbell, Hilton Jamal Day, Gabi Dayers, Arlene Joie Deleon, Michael Dorado, Roczane Enriquez | Written and Directed by Matthew Abaya

vampariah-art

Vampire movies are ten-a-penny these days: from the sparkly variety to the emo, leather-clad type, we’ve had a myriad of different fanged foes in the movies. But one subcategory of vampire that hasn’t had the kind of exposure its Western brethren have is the aswang… “The what?” you may ask. The aswang – a monster borne of Filipino folklore that has traits of the Westernised version of the vampire, but has also been said to incorporate other monstrous attributes, like that of the werewolf and ghoul.

In Vampariah the aswang are a race of vampire, living in the forest (where they’ve historically been said to live in Filipino legend) who, when night falls, grow wings and fly off into the night to feed on humans with their giant tongues, which they use to pierce the stomachs of their victims, disembowelling them and draining them of their blood. The really strange fact? The aswang leave their legs behind when they grow their wings, tearing their bodies in half as they ascend into the skies!

The film itself tells the story of Mahal, a member of an elite squad of skilled monster hunters responsible for keeping the world safe from vampires and other creatures of the night. Her mission to rid the world of this undead threat becomes compromised when her fate intertwines with an aswang forcing her to choose sides in an age old war…

Can you say Underworld?

Yes, Vampariah (such a cool name for a film, and perfect for this one TBH) follows the formula made popular by the big-budget vampire franchise, melding traditional monsters and mythology with modern tech, leather clad heroes and a story that sees our heroine having to come to terms with a change in her belief system than in turn (if they made sequels to this film) would change her life forever. Beyond that though, Vampariah couldn’t be further from Underworld and its sequels if it tried. For one, it feels like everyone involved had more passion for this film than all those big-budget vampire movies put together.

Shot on what looks to be a super-low budget, this feature length version of writer/director Matthew Abaya’s 2004 short film Bampinay (also the name of the lead aswang in this film), incorporates a ton of influences within its brief but effective 90 minutes – from the aformentioned aswang, via the obvious Underworld/Resident Evil cliches to a fantastic nod to Mr. Vampire and the Chinese “vampire” genre – with Mahal taking control of a jiangshi (hopping vampire) using a Taoist parchment placed on the demons forehead!

It’s little things like that – the small attention to detail, the obvious love for the subject matter, the depiction of a monster we don’t see too often in cinema, that helps Vampariah stand out in a very crowded vampire genre. If you can look past the obvious budgetary problems and THAT generic artwork (see above) you’ll discover what is – ultimately – a fantastic, fun, action-horror.

**** 4/5

Vampariah will be available on VOD (via iTunes, Amazon, Rakuten TV, Play, Microsoft, Sky Store, TalkTalk, Vubiquity, and BT) on December 4th.

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