Words: Emmett Barlow
BLOOD RED MOON
For the past four decades on the date of the winter solstice, young women have been abducted from the town of Fawnskin, only to be found, days later, lifeless; their bodies brutalised and their blood drained in the Black Water Forest. Having believed they’ve apprehended the culprit, the town’s police convict local loner Raymond Blanks soon after the last murder in 2002. Yet local girl turned filmmaker Danielle holds some considerable doubts over the conviction and a fervent desire to uncover the truth surrounding the gristly deaths.
She leads a team of four friends into the darkness and deluge of Black Water to uncover, investigate and document the murders scenes; equally enthusiastic Andrea, reluctant sound man Robin, and camera for hire, Anthony. Folklore of mystery and monsters lurking in the deep gain deeper foundations as a year later the only trace of the gang’s fated trip is that of the recording now known as Black Water Vampire.
The found footage genre, and in the same breath vampire genre, has very much run its course – with little to nothing now being added to the aching sub-genre. With the scares far and few between, Black Water Vampire hardly comes close to nudging some of its more recent, richer rivals. One only needs to look to the likes of The Bay, Chronicle and VHS, and even those that have come to subvert the genre such as La casa muda and the American remake Silent House, to realise that there is some, but little life left in the movie fetish of the millennium.
What grieves the most is the lack of urgency throughout. A considerable chunk of the film is the four main characters bumbling along tediously, the only nourishment the increasingly detached and, at times, unintentionally witty dialogue. In addition, the film is desperate to remind us of the films it owes so much to, borrowing tropes and shots from The Blair Witch Project and REC – there’s even references to Rosemary’s Baby and Alien. However, director Evan Tramel then goes and shatters the found-footage-Magna-Carta with heaps of non-diegetic music and shots that defy basic human impulses. (When faced with, and credit where credits due, a sinewy blood-thirsty agent of the night chewing on your mate’s neck, would you make a b-line for the trees or pick up the camera that your now translucent buddy was holding and then leg it?)
At a run time of seventy-nine minutes Black Water Vampire isn’t asking for much and it isn’t looking to shatter and redefine horror conventions. With a good few jumps, a genuinely striking and aesthetically convincing baddy, Black Water Vampire is a relatively satisfying and manageable B-movie flick that would be ideally suited for any lazy Sunday afternoon.