More vampires? Say it ain’t so! Well, it is. Yes, the entertainment world has somehow not yet reached the saturation point with vampires. With the new web series, Bleed, the ever-expanding genre now includes ‘buddy vampires’. Described on its Facebook page as ‘the lovechild of Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this horror comedy hits notes of both, while somehow creating its own left of center charm.
With only three five minute episodes to be found on either the Facebook page or Blip.tv there is a sense that this little show has some potential to actually stand out in the pantheon of vampire media. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but there is something here, something not as abrasive as Kevin Smith, nor so self-aware as Buffy. It’s got a little bit of the Austin, Texas charm from where director Ben Snyder shoots the thing – like the wide-eyed good nature of the boys in Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket (another Austin, TX production).
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This comes from both the direction and especially Matt Lawson’s writing. Lawson created the show in 2006 as a short film that eventually became the pilot to the web series. His main characters, twenty-something best friends, Perry, played by Alan Seales and Brian, played by Eric Morales, are newbie vampires muddling their way through the early days of undeadness like two kids who just entered puberty. Perry plays it too-cool-for-school, with a ‘let’s get this over with’ attitude, whereas Brian is more the puppy dog, awkwardly finding his way through.
Seales and Morales are less funny than they are likable, but this likability goes a long way. That said, they each have their moments where I had at least a chuckle, if not an out and out guffaw. Brian’s attempt to bite Perry in the first episode is one such moment, as Brian can’t seem to bring himself to do the deed because it just feels ‘gay’. Perry just wants it over with and Brian tries hard, but even I was squirming as Perry stretched his neck out for Brian’s fangs.
Episode three is funny throughout, not necessarily laugh out loud, but humorous as the boys enter a vampire party where the vamps just seem like quirky goth nerds. Vampires like I’ve never seen, imagine that! Morales has a great scene with Hillary Trelease as Carmela, when they adjourn to a bedroom and surprise each other with bared fangs, only to awkwardly realize they’re both vampires. It’s a nice meet-cute, again like I’ve never seen, where two undeads share in their common circumstance like teenagers comparing braces.
Production value is good to average. Shot on the DVX 100b, I found the night-time scenes to be a little hard to discern sometimes. DP Danny Eckler works hard in episode two to create some great lighting as Perry is chased by vamp Evil Lynn played by Whitney Griffin, but when his chiaroscuro gives way to full darkness, my eyes had trouble focusing in the mushy video. Incidentally, this chase scene is really well done from sound design to direction to editing in creating a tense and somewhat scary atmosphere.
According to their facebook page, casting for future episodes has already begun with Ray Perez playing ‘Incubus from hell’ Mr. Trauco, Mallory Culbert as Brian’s ex-girlfriend and Sara Hoots (2008’s Miss Hooters – see the video, boys, you’ll be glad you did) as Brian’s ‘mysterious new girlfriend’. These additions will be found in the four new episodes that are in production for an October premier on shortfilmtexas.com.
My hope is that as Snyder’s Subcreations Productions and writer, Lawson, are hard at work expanding their little vampire subgenre, they will do so in the increasingly difficult way they’ve been doing it, by showing things we haven’t ever seen vampires do. Good luck, guys. So, final analysis is, if you aren’t over vampires yet, please take a look at this one, yet another solid entry into indie web series creation.