Little by little, humankind has come to understand that vampirism is not only a real medical condition caused by a transmuting virus but also that the dreaded blood-suckers of fiction are living among us. However, in an attempt to publicly reconcile relations between species, vampire ambassadors embark on a daring media campaign to reassure the world that hunting mortals for sustenance is so passé--and what better way to prove it--than allowing an in-depth exposé on their painfully ordinary existence. For such an important task, an intrepid three-member crew of documentarians are invited to spend a week with a typical vampire household--but, soon--minor slips of the tongue will quickly crumble the friendly facade. But really though, who said this was a good idea?
Directed by: Brian A. Metcalf
. Starring: Jordan Hinson
, Andrew Keegan
, Esmé Bianco
, William Sadler
, John Heard
, Thomas Ian Nicholas
, James Russo
, Jessica Morris
, Travis Aaron Wade
, Chad Todhunter
, Anna Sophia Berglund
, Hunter Gomez
, Brian A. Metcalf
LIVING AMONG US opens with a small collection of news broadcasts announcing the "discovery" of a vampire "virus". Essentially, vampires are real and vampirism is caused by a virus and this virus has been around for quite some time. One news piece even quotes one "expert" claiming that the phenomenon was first reported as far back as 1811.
One particularly juicy (pun intended) element of the news stories is an exposé suggesting that many blood donation organizations have been supplying the erstwhile not-commonly-known vampires with blood. It is supposedly this vampiric use of blood donation facilities that really drags the existence of vampires fully into the limelight.
Apparently, one particular vampire "family", part of the local vampire "section", has come forward and offered to allow a news crew to come visit them in their home to interview them over the course of a few days. Of note is the fact that the particular news crew that is invited is headed up by the "documentarian" that discovered and broke the vampireblood donation organization connection.
Disturbingly, however, the interview invitation comes with a few strings attached. Where most documentary crews consist of anywhere from 7 to 10 people, a maximum of 3 is all that will be allowed on this gig. Additionally, certain items are not permitted, to wit: holy water, crosses, rosary beads or wooden stakes. AND there are rules about where the crew can and can't go in the household and limitations on filming.
The documentary crew arrives at the home of the vampire family and it doesn't take long for things to go horribly wrong. Vampire oriented horror ensues.
This is a "found footage" style film, although it should be noted that it has a far more professional look and feel than your typical found footage junker. It even features at least two well-known and exceptionally well-established actors, William Sadler and John Heard. (More on this point later.) Production values are high and it's definitely a visually polished film. Unfortunately, this is where the list of positive elements comes to an end.
Bluntly, while the film has many superficial plot elements for being a failure, at its most basic level the film fails because of its fundamentally unworkable concept. On the face of it, the idea of the story seems intriguing: having been thoroughly outed, some vampires seek to put a positive PR spin on things by volunteering to create a documentary that shows them to be just regular folk. Just regular folk that have a virus that makes them vampires that need to drink human blood. Why, it's really a story about a tragic kind of disability, right? And we all know how we should be understanding of people with disabilities, right?
But, realistically, how is this movie idea ever going to pan out? If the vampires are successful with their scheme, then nothing happens that's horrific and the movie is uninteresting. If it DOESN'T pan out, as it doesn't, the vampires, some of whom are supposedly hundreds of years old and are quite good at blending in with humanity without being noticed, simply come off as looking like idiots or the monsters they are.
So the movie suffers from bumps and warts that just stick out all over the place.
After giving a list of the above-mentioned forbidden items, in a subsequent interview about such items, the family head vampire claims that no, that's just superstition, they don't really react to crosses or holy water. The next natural question is to wonder why those things were then forbidden to be brought, and that question never happens.
During the course of the movie we encounter a rather large pile of previously vampire-noshed people. Somehow this hasn't attracted local attention? Scores of local people disappearing doesn't attract attention but a subtle connection between blood banks and vampires DOES?
Supposedly, the family of vampires is trying to keep a low and normal profile for the documentary for obvious reasons. But the juvenile delinquent family member, Blake, takes the opportunity to engage in extreme vampire behavior at every opportunity. You know, ripping random people's heads off, tearing innocent people limb from limb and drinking their blood, and so on. You know... so that such interesting things can be filmed for the documentary. Huh?
One of the other vampire family members, Selvin, is clearly mentally deranged right from the onset. And yet the vampire family leaders don't do anything to conceal him.
The entire family participates in a "ritual" for the edification of the documentary crew in which a living and shackled woman is cut up and fed upon on the dining room table while she screams bloody murder. The vampire family leadership attempts to pass this off as a "public service" because the victim supposedly is a prostitute who has AIDS who is knowingly infecting other people so she can get money for her drug habit. Right. THAT'S going to be a PR hit.
Remember, the whole idea of granting this interview was putting together the documentary to put a positive spin on the existence of vampires, your friendly neighbors and upstanding citizens. And yet virtually nothing that happens from the moment the film crew arrives is ever going to put the vampires in any sort of positive light. The whole idea for the movie is simply ridiculous. It couldn't, and doesn't, work as a storyline.
On an anecdotal and somewhat sad closing note, John Heard plays a major role in this movie. While you might not know him by name off the top your head, as soon as you see him you recognize him as a namebrand actor; after all, you have been seeing him on screen in innumerable movies and on TV for a bit more than 4 decades. LIVING AMONG US, based upon its IMDB listing, is either the last or one of the last movies he made. Considering the dubious quality of the movie, this is rather unfortunate. It is unclear to me why he would even make such a movie. Did he have the worst agent in the industry?
There is a quote from Heard in which he refers to himself as having been an "arrogant jerk", that he had become "a hack actor" and that he had "dropped the ball". Clearly he was unhappy with how his career had eventually panned out, though he in fact had played in many major and respected, successful movies in his career. Having LIVING AMONG US as his final or near-to-final work feels almost as if fate conspired to put a emphatically depressing punctuation on his own theme of disappointed self-assessment.
Review by S. Soma from the Internet Movie Database.