WFTB Score: 4/20
The plot: Best friends Fletch and Jimmy drunkenly decide to take an impromptu break in the English countryside. They meet a busload of beautiful girls and the group head to a cottage where the lodgings are free and the beer flows freely. Unfortunately, there’s a catch: the village of Cragwich is cursed, and the party is disturbed by the arrival of bloodthirsty lesbian vampires. Jimmy must summon up the courage of his forefathers to prevent the rebirth of a vicious vampire queen.
If there are two lads who could do with a break, it’s fast friends Jimmy and Fletch (Matthew Horne and James Corden). Jimmy’s pushy girlfriend Judy (Lucy Gaskell) switches off their on-off relationship for the umpteenth time, while Fletch becomes unemployed after tiring of being a children’s entertainer and assaulting one of his charges. In a moment of drunkenness the boys choose a budget holiday destination by throwing a dart at a map, resulting in them hiking their way to the backwater village of Cragwich. The locals are a strange but suspiciously hospitable bunch, offering the boys the use of a cottage for the night; a deal which only gets better when they encounter a group of attractive young women, including mythology expert Lotte (MyAnna Buring) heading the same way. However, when things start going bump in the night, it’s not in the way Fletch would like but an attack by a horde of nubile young lesbian vampires, out for blood.
With the help of Lotte and the local vicar (Paul McGann), Jimmy and Fletch reluctantly take it upon themselves to fight back against the daughters of the village, cursed to turn on their eighteenth birthdays. What Jimmy doesn’t know is that he’s more involved than he could ever imagine, since one of his ancestors slew the Vampire Queen Carmilla (Silvia Colloca) centuries ago, and it’s down to him to ensure she doesn’t come back. Unfortunately, neither he nor Fletch are remotely suited to the grisly task.
The jumping-off point for discussing Lesbian Vampire Killers has to be a comparison with Shaun of the Dead, since the similarities go much deeper than a meek, put-upon protagonist accompanied by a larger, gobbier mate. Both the style – jumpy cuts, sped-up action, and the structure – fretting over failed relationships in the pub – are deeply imitative of SOTD, or perhaps more pertinently its TV forerunner Spaced. Spaced, however, was already cinematic in its references, sharply played and often brilliantly written: Lesbian Vampire Killers is a horribly written film.
For one thing, there are hardly any jokes, merely the juvenile notion that adults swearing is always funny, no matter how unimaginatively it’s done; for another, more important, thing, the characterisation is woeful. Matt Horne has so little to do he barely registers, while the remaining characters alter personalities so radically from one line to the next that you wonder if writers Stewart Williams and Paul Hupfield ever collaborated on the script, or just submitted half each as a final draft.
Judy, for example, is a hopelessly inconsistent character whose motivations are entirely unbelievable, and who doesn’t even stick around long enough to provide meaningful conflict for Jimmy and Lotte’s burgeoning relationship. And Fletch is all over the shop, one second aggressive and gung-ho, the next a high-pitched whiner full of can’t-be-arsed cowardice.
As a result, the acting appears to be awful, and while much of it is poor (the women are clearly chosen for their looks, not their acting chops) the cast shouldn’t shoulder all the blame. James Corden is capable of much more – for example the TV movie Cruise of the Gods, where he’s positively adorable – while Horne has employed his hangdog expression to good effect on the celebrated sitcom Gavin and Stacey (co-written, of course, by Corden). Here, the duo are literally lost in a script which even the notably thespish qualities of Paul McGann can’t raise from the dead.
None of the above would really be relevant if the film lived up to the fantasies engendered by the title, of course; but here again it disappoints. Yes, there’s a lad’s mag leeriness about some of the film, the camera stopping to note hotpants, heaving bosoms and the like. However, given that the film was always geared up to be a ‘15’ Certificate, it could surely have made more of the setting, introducing more gore, more spice, more knowing, parodic exploitation.
Instead, the Lesbian Vampires of the title are largely amorphous, CGI-heavy figures who make shapes at each other but do nothing except kiss in a teenage boys’ fantasy of what lesbianism might be like. Had the film gone full-throttle down the exploitation route it might not have been any better, but at least you could say director Phil Claydon had given it a go. There’s absolutely no point in giving a film a come-on title like Lesbian Vampire Killers, then producing a bland, uninteresting, unfunny stodge like this.
If you’re around the age of fifteen and have never been exposed to any sort of splatter, skimpily-dressed women or vaguely naughty swearing before – and given the popularity of the likes of Superbad, that’s highly unlikely – you might get something out of Lesbian Vampire Killers. Otherwise, you’ll have to be both a big fan of Horne and Corden and terribly, terribly forgiving. In other words, if you chuckled at their legendarily dismal sketch show, you might not hate this. If not, head straight for something – even Paul, at a push – featuring Messrs Pegg and Frost. Or better still, wait a few years until you’re old enough to enjoy From Dusk Till Dawn.