Bloodsucking Bosses


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bloodsucking Bastards
"The best combination of loser comedy and gore since Shaun Of The Dead."

Of all film genres, horror comedy is one of the hardest to get right. Bloodsucking Bastards has been described as The Office with vampires, and that's pretty fair, but it's a lot harder to achieve the character development necessary to make this sort of thing work in an 86-minute film than it is in a series. God and Mitts' perfectly judged script trusts the viewer to do a lot of the hard work, plunging us straight into an office culture where we get to know people from their interactions with those around them. What's really impressive is that not only do we get to know these people, we get to like them (though they're almost all bastards in their way) and we stay with them to the end, through a series of changes in mood and pace that would see lesser writers falter. The result is the best combination of loser comedy and gore since Shaun Of The Dead.

Fran Kranz, who has a history of delivering strong supporting performances in high quality films, plays Evan, acting sales manager in an office where work is a distinctly secondary concern. Having recently split up with HR manager Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick) almost by accident, he's in a pretty low place, even before he's passed over for promotion in favour of his sleazy college nemesis Max (Pedro Pascal). It's not a popular move with anyone on the team. Suddenly they're expected to turn up on time, to produce reports, to turn off their computer games, and to actually make sales. Rumour has it that Max is planning to slim down the team. Accomplished slackers like Tim (Joey Kern), who hasn't made a sale all month, begin to wonder how they'll survive.

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Then Evan finds the blood-soaked body of one of his colleagues in the toilets.

There are no big surprises in the plot that follows. It is - if you'll excuse the pun - the execution that matters. The deadpan humour is delivered with panache and all the actors - some of them playing very much against type - manage to keep their characters believable. Marshall Givens does a nice job as a security guard who approaches his work with military precision (and a little help from Wikipedia), whilst Parvesh Cheena makes a lot of a small role as an ill-fated new guy. The chemistry within the group is strong and characters' petty jealousies are neatly explicated. The obvious swipes at the mistreatment of office staff and the misery found in many such workplaces are delivered in a way that doesn't detract from the pace or the naturalness of the performances.

When it comes to the action scenes, the direction isn't as strong (this is only O'Connell's third feature) and a limited effects budget means some events have to be described to us rather than being seen directly, but it still holds together. Wisely, O'Connell has taken the same approach that Peter Jackson used in his early work - if there's a risk of the action not living up to the comedy, throw several buckets of blood at it. This over-the-top gore is silly enough in itself to keep the laughs coming, whilst triggering the required level of disgust. It also emphasises the inhuman nature of the bad guys, sidestepping any inconvenient sympathy we might feel due to having met them when they were alive.

Whilst there may be nothing particularly new about Bloodsucking Bastards, it has bags of personality and manages to draw a lot of energy from its deliberately mediocre foundations. It's a lot more fun than anyone had a right to expect. If you go back to work in an office after watching it, you'll be looking at the small windows and the fluorescent lighting in a new way.

Reviewed on: 30 Aug 2015
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Bloodsucking Bosses packshot
A vampire infestation in the office is the last thing our hard-pressed hero needs.

Director: Brian James O'Connell

Writer: Dr. God, Ryan Mitts, Ryan Mitts

Starring: Fran Kranz, Emma Fitzpatrick, Joey Kern, Jacquelyn Palmquist, Pedro Pascal

Year: 2015

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: US


Frightfest 2015

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