Eric’s Review: Bloodsucking Bastards (2015)

ATMOSfx! Woo!
★★★ out of ★★★★★

You might hate your job, but at least your supervisor isn’t a vampire transforming your colleagues into thirsty minions. Bloodsucking Bastards is a fun but inconsistent horror comedy populated with colorful office characters, that in the end feels like an R-rated TV sitcom.

Directed by Brian James O’Connell

The office environment is a windowless cube farm. The employees are a bunch of sad sack losers, failed ladder climbers, and unrepentant slackers. And now, this miserable job is going to get worse, as a takeover is coming. A vampire takeover. The premise feels very much like an extended alternative universe version of The Office or Parks and Rec.

Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods) is Evan, the acting sales director for a small telemarketing company, a soul sucking job that is requiring him to run an ad campaign for Phallicite, an erectile dysfunction medicine that apparently works well, but “Makes my junk green.” His colleagues at the office are a batch of slackers who waste time at the office playing combat video games, and spend much of their time disrespecting him and everyone else in the office. His romantic relationship with human resources director Amanda (Elizabeth Fitzpatrick) is on the rocks for his inability to proclaim his feelings.

Just when things look to be making a turn for the best, a chance for him to get promoted to sales director full-time, he finds to his horror that his job is going to an outsider, Max (Pedro Pascal, incredibly charming) and you can practically hear the toilet flushing sound for his career aspirations. And just when it didn’t seem like things could get worse, some of his ne’er do well colleagues start turning up dead… and when he runs to let other people know, the bodies disappear. (How convenient!)

Evan, tired, distraught, and unappreciated, burns the late night oil trying to recover his reputation. That evening it becomes clear that his colleagues have been killed and are returning as vampires. And the top vampire? Max. He rallies with his mischievous buddy Tim (Joey Kern) and gung-ho security guard Frank (Marshall Givens) to rescue Amanda and defeat Max and all of their now vampire (and productive) colleagues.

Full admission. The first fifteen minutes of this film had me laughing out loud. There were so many amusing little touches, from the frustrations of the promotional ceiling, to jokes about paying up for the fantasy football pool, and the doofy shenanigans involving all the slacker dudes was fun for a while. These are things that anyone who works in an office environment can identify with. Eventually, however, you realized that these were cardboard cutouts as characters. No real story arcs. No emotional depth. And the biggest sin? The movie ceased being really funny for the entirety of the second act. The movie didn’t NEED to be deep, but you can’t be a comedy with a funny drought in the middle of the movie.

The Bro-dude act wore thin surprisingly quickly. The staff were a bunch of assholes. They took their clues from superior films like Office Space, but they continued going back to the same gags, and after the initial fun jokes, they would return to the same well too often. Like an 80’s slasher movies, you also really didn’t care to see if the characters died, in fact you might be rooting for that to happen. In a horror comedy, it’s not the end of the world, but you have to be very creative in your execution, and the plot of Bloodsucking Bastards was rather routine.

Fortunately, the finale was a fun bloodbath, with the great gag being that the vampires exploded into bloody showers once they got staked. Exploding vampires and blood soaked heroes = FUNNY! or maybe (funny). Pedro Pascal, the Mandalorian himself, was a complete scene chewer, and an excellent foil. He played it cool, and I did like the premise that vampires make harder workers, and that you could see how much harder the slackers worked once they were undead.

I think your miles may vary with this one. The benefit of TV shows like the Parks & Rec, The Office, Wings, Cheers and 30 Rock, is that you’ve had many hours, if not years of times to know the characters. I would suggest that Bloodsucking Bastards feels like an average episode of one of those shows, without giving you the background necessary to bond with them. You get force fed the characters, so they are very broadly portrayed so that you don’t need much exposition or backstory to support them.

If you like broad sketch comedies, and want them to be injected with some bloodshed, then you’ll probably enjoy this. Bloodsucking Bastards has some really fun moments, but it is inconsistent in the execution.

Bloodsucking Bastards is rated R for profanity, violence and some gore, though it is not particularly cruel. I would suggest that this film is suitable for teenagers, but it would be appreciated most for those who have had to toil in an office cube environment. It is available streaming free if you have Amazon Prime.

Review by Eric Li

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