JULY 17, 2012
You know, I can deal with I Kissed A Vampire’s PG rated plot, incoherent opening scenes, and largely terrible acting - I’m used to that sort of crap. But when you tell me that it’s a rock musical and every song is actually teeny bopper pop nonsense that makes Justin Bieber’s work sound like hardcore punk, I take offense. Even if the movie was lousy (and it is), I figured there might be a few decent rock tunes to enjoy. I mean, put a guitar in a song aimed at the masses and there’s a good chance I’ll like it (I own every Daughtry album, after all).
But sadly, I didn’t enjoy a single tune (of the 15), which made this a very grueling experience since even the film’s creators would probably tell you that the songs are the draw and the stuff in between was just there to link the musical numbers together and nothing else (for proof – the villain’s name is Trey Sylvania. That’s how much effort they were putting into the story/characters). Some were a bit catchy at times, but I’d never want to go out of my way to put one on or download the soundtrack on iTunes.
Worse, they’re all pretty much the same damn song; indistinguishable beats and structure with lyrics that all boil down to either “it sucks being a vampire” (when the heroes are singing) or “it’s great being a vampire” (for the villains). There are some love ones too, but even those revolve around the restrictions or benefits of that love that come with being a vampire. Even when there's a scene about the "goth punk scene of 1981" the song they play sounds exactly like the others. And they’re all performed in whole or in (major) part by one of the three leads, so it’s a failure there too. Take Rocky Horror – you get Frank, Magenta, Riff-Raff, Columbia, Brad, Janet, Rocky, Eddie, even the damn Narrator singing tunes in different pairings or solo, plus the group numbers like “Rose Tint My World”. There's variety, there's a chance for supporting characters to shine, there's EFFORT. Here it’s just Trey, Dylan, Sara, Trey and Sara, Trey and Dylan, Sara and Dylan, or Trey, Dylan and Sara.
There is one exception: Chris Coppola, the obnoxious guy you might recognize from several mid to late 00s Uwe Boll movies. He’s just as grating here as he was there, playing a mad inventor (named Dan Helsing – yep) who tries to help the kids from their vampirism. He joins in on one or two songs, but since they’re led by the others, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. However, his sequences are the only time in the movie where it felt like they were actually trying to give it some sort of a plot (and he actually scores the film’s only laugh by complaining about having to stop what he’s doing to sing – there are a few jokes along those lines in the movie, actually), so I am forced to say he’s the best thing about it.
Once I realized that the songwriters and I have very different ideas of what a rock song is, I began actively trying to keep my brain from exploding thanks to the knowledge that this thing actually got a minor theatrical release a few months back. Not sure if it was all in one state or what, but per Box Office Mojo it was released on 11 screens and made 125 dollars per theater on opening weekend, which translates to about 16 tickets sold per theater at most. Little bit of trivia, it is the 2nd lowest grossing film in the distributor’s history; the only one lower is How To Be A Serial Killer, which I almost contributed to as its one theater/weekend happened to be in San Diego during Comic Con back in 2009, and I was kind of curious when I walked by the theater on my way to some panel.
Now, it’s not that the movie is bad that made me wonder how anyone thought it deserved an 11 screen release – I’ve seen worse movies play on thousands of screens. No, what confuses me is the fact that this is easily one of the cheapest LOOKING movies ever made, with every musical number looking like a cross between Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video and those cheesy commercials you see for the traveling circus on Saturday morning TV. The director (named Chris Nolan, which tickled me to no end) is also fond of randomly zooming in during songs and dialogue scenes alike, a motif I couldn’t begin to explain. If anything the movie feels way too small and cramped as is, why make it worse? Zoom OUT and let us at least see how big your tacky set is!
I say all this knowing perfectly well that the target audience is (I hope) 12 year old girls, who probably don’t care about such things. But, you know, that was the audience for the Babysitter’s Club movie too, and that still resembled a real movie. Also, among the DVD’s bonus features is the original web series that this was based on, and even THOSE look like they have better production value than the feature (or maybe I just enjoyed getting through the exact same plot – sans Coppola’s character – in a third of the time), so it’s reasonable to think that anyone who enjoyed the web show (must have SOME audience in order to justify the cost of redoing it as a feature, right?) would be disappointed that the film was just a stretched out, cheaper version of what they already saw for free (or maybe it was a couple bucks, I couldn’t actually find it online anywhere).
The other bonus features include a pair of deleted scenes, one that seemingly goes on longer than the film itself, the other a minor musical number. Since I couldn’t tell the songs, certain characters, or sets apart, I feel I am under-qualified to comment on whether or not they were right to cut the scenes. The blooper reel is a curiosity, however – apart from the first gaffe where the set seemingly catches on fire and everyone is asked to exit ASAP, the whole thing is just a bunch of alternate lines for things that I guess were supposed to be jokes, like the main kid’s response to the lipstick on his neck (Take 1: “It’s chocolate!” Take 2: “We were painting!”). The trailer is also there, but there’s no need to access it since it actually plays before the disc’s menu comes up – so they’re just as incompetent at DVD mastering as they are at making films. Oh, they can’t figure out Twitter, either – according to the menu, their handle is “IKissedAVampire.com/vampirettes.php”. Who needs QA, anyway?
If you’re a parent – yes, this movie is totally fine for your Glee loving child who might have some interest in Twilight but you think she’s not ready yet. I wouldn’t argue that. But there are hundreds of better options that you might actually enjoy as well. Try Coraline or something.
What say you?