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The Hamiltons

Recently, it has become fairly common for me to start watching a movie only to realize (45 minutes later) that I'm watching a zombie movie. Not nearly as common is my watching a movie only to discover that it's a vampire movie.

I think it's easier for folks to craft a story that uses the concepts or elements of a zombie movie in other contexts than it is to create a more abstracted vampire story; zombies can take the form of slack-jawed movie watchers or glass-eyed mall shoppers not just shambling flesh eaters. When people attempt to explore the depths of vampirism, they tend to fall into one other bucket - that of the succubus.

The set up for The Hamiltons is designed to lead us to believe that that family we're watching is made up of socially awkward cannibals, like the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or perhaps just deranged serial killer's like in House of 1000 Corpses. There is no immediate indication of the "big reveal" - as it will turn out, the family is really a bunch of white trash vampires.

Plagued by something I can only call "low-budget-isms", The Hamiltons is a slow, plodding trip through miles of terrible acting and simply impossible plot set ups. Which sounds completely terrible but, on paper, the story wasn't actually that bad. I believe it could have been significantly improved by bringing in a more experience (and skilled) screenwriter to give it a revision or two. I also think the concept of the movie could have been handed off to a better director and come out a pretty watchable movie.

As it is, some of their borrowed techniques and non-standard plot devices actually stand up. Their noir-inspired voice over actually plays very closely to the voice over in Terminator (more than Blade Runner even) and presents as one of the strongest pieces of the movie. It also harkens to Stake Land, another recent, unconventional vampire flick. In reading a couple of interviews with the directorial team, I found myself surprised that they never sited Near Dark as one of their influences. I actually couldn't draw a closer comparison that that.

The idea that vampires are born, not made, is a great one that doesn't see much usage these days. They keep their young caged, as they are uncontrollable monsters that simply murder everything. I couldn't help thinking about The Lost Boys and Laddie (the 80's favorite child vampire). And I felt flash backs to my favorite horror comedy (My Best Friend is a Vampire) as the characters talked about vampires being "misunderstood members of society" who just want to live and get along with their neighbors, etc.

There is absolutely no reason for you to have to watch this movie, I've already taken that one for the team.

If you're having a hard time believing me, you can watch the trailer and decide for yourselves:

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