Vampires are real and one man is determined to get the story or die trying. This is the basic gist of Living Among Us, a new found footage horror film with an initially familiar taste to it. Now, I’ll spare you my preamble about found footage/mockumentary style movies. Anyone who has followed my reviews over the years knows my thoughts. Despite an initially slow opening and some uncomfortable opening performances, this is a movie that actually has a little bit of bite to it. Okay, now that the vampire puns are out of the way, let’s talk about the movie. Living Among Us explores a reality in which vampires have been shown to exist after a documentary filmmaker exposes blood banks for feeding the mythological monsters. Vampires, of course, being a technical term as the various news outlets covering the story explain that vampirism is a disease that mutates the body to need fresh human blood while creating an allergy to ultraviolet radiation. It isn’t long before a leader amongst the bloodsucker community steps forward and an invitation is offered to the same documentarian to film the daily life of a family of vampires living in his city. Of course, there are a handful of bizarre but recognizable restrictions to this visit. No crosses. No holy water. No silver. For people who are only allergic to the sun it seems like a huge red flag to me. Let me start with what doesn’t work for me about Living Among Us. Simply put, the newscasts at the beginning and end of the film as well are a huge hindrance to the suspension of disbelief. From the green screen to the acting, it just isn’t believable. They all seemed like high school kids pretending to be adults and terrified of the camera. The opening encounter with the “family” also felt a bit stunted, either retroscripted or ad-libbed and the documentary crew itself was unrelatable as a collection of people. There was unexplored, unexplained, and unresolved tension between Mike, the lead “protagonist” and Carrie, his producer and former lover. The interactions, especially at the start of the film, all felt unpolished and rough but they improve drastically as the film finds its pace about twenty minutes in. As an aficionado of sorts on B movies and monsters, I thought Living Among Us had some fine points, not the least of which being the cast. James Russo, William Sadler, Esme Bianco, and John Heard – in his final film appearance – round out a cast of character acting all-stars whose names may not be immediately familiar but whose faces you’ll no doubt recognize. In fact, John Heard delivers one of the most chilling and beautifully shot scenes in the film as he stands at the threshold of a doorway in a dark room, the hallway outside being the only light. Nothing but his face and the silhouette of his body are visible as he reveals his true intentions to the camera crew before slowly sinking into the inky blackness and disappearing. It felt like a moment from an old Hammer Dracula film. The special effects are also worth noting as they are nothing like what I expected. Usually, found footage/mockumentary movies rely on shaky, blurred shots and copious amounts of blood to hide the fact that they have nothing for the audience to be shocked or terrified of. Living Among Us delivers, however, with scene after scene of awesome, time-tested practical, makeup, and digital effects without a lot of that shaky cam bullshit that The Blair Witch Project introduced us to twenty years ago. The effects work wasn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it was solid, fun, and easily made up for the weaker points of the plot with burning limbs and piles of corpses in various states of decay and disassembly. There’s been a renaissance in practical effects in the last few years and Living Among Us is the best case yet for why you need them in any kind of monster horror film. When the camera is capturing “life” you want something realistic for the actors and the audience to respond to. If you give me grainy 8mm film, I expect something that looks good in that medium, not some penciled-in-during-post sketch of a monster. It’s as much about the aesthetic as the story sometimes. Living Among Us does nothing new for the vampire movie but don’t let that stop you from watching it. The story is entertaining, the effects are wonderful, and it’s fun to see John Heard one final time on screen as something other than a loving, if not criminally forgetful father. There are some genuinely creepy moments, though no outright scares. All in all, I’d definitely watch it again. Fans of found footage will love the style and the cinematography. Fans of vampires will appreciate the blood lust and lack of daytime sparkling. It’s a B+ of a B movie that’s worth a little bit of your time. Living Among Us hits select theaters this Friday, February 2! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.