It’s all but impossible not to become a bit jaded when you’re a horror fan. Let’s be honest; there’s not a hell of a lot that we haven’t seen flash across the screen, be it transformations, decapitations, mutilations, creative kills, ghostly apparitions, or horrible monsters. All of us Fellow Fans worth our salt have seen countless versions of all the things I’ve mentioned and then some; the task for filmmakers these days, beyond those that strive to find something folks like us haven’t seen, is to find some way to show us things mebbe we have seen, but in a new, original way. New twists on the slasher, the ghost flick, the ubiquitous (and at times, monotonous) “new” takes on found-footage; it’s a constant challenge to put something together that’s not just the same ol’ same ol’…
In few places is the ground as thoroughly tread as with the vampire movie; from Max Schreck stalking about back in ’22 to the Twilight sparklers of modern times, vampires have been put through the wringer time and time again; sometimes with interesting results, often times far less so.
The folks at Big Biting Pig Productions have come up with their own spin on the vampire mythology with their film The Caretakers; I gotta tell you folks, for a longtime fan of the bloodsucking subgenre and a fan of indie film, I have to say that they did a couple things I wasn’t expecting…but let me preface that with a little about what the flick’s about…
Our story begins with Jack, a wizened, worldly man who’s spent the majority of his life as a caretaker for Catherine — an ageless, “pure born” vampire. Unlike the insane “Renfields” we’re used to, Jack is a pretty straightforward guy; he’s intelligent, somewhat melancholy…and good with firearms. We learn that his mentor, an aged man who’d been in service to Catherine for even longer, had recently passed on, and Catherine thinks it’s time for Jack to take on an apprentice of his own (though she never directly addresses it, she knows that Jack longs for something more in his life now in his later years).
While all of this is happening, we’re also privy to the hunt for a “changeling”, a girl that had escaped from Catherine’s clutches but is now running amok as a more savage, brutal vampire because of the her initial contact with the “pure born”. Concurrently, this same girl’s father, an apparently rich and well-respected physician, has retained the services of some private detective types who specialize in “odd” missing persons cases. As Jack trains his successors and tries to develop a life beyond his indenture, he, the missing vampire, and the detectives will all cross paths…
…who will survive and how is a matter for you to discover for yourself.
First off, this is a low-budget, indie film; you guys really know what to expect from that by now. There’s a minimum of “effects” (although the bloody gore from some of the stabbing scenes is pretty impressive), and the acting isn’t going to win any Oscars…however, fans of independent film (especially indie horror) will find a comparatively high-degree of production value here, with multiple settings, indoor and outdoor shots, and some very well-composed and executed sequences. The visual narrative, with its multiple yet intertwined storylines, is a little bumpy at times, but not so much that I ever felt lost in the film. The performers overall were pretty good, and even the weakest portrayals were never enough to push me out of my suspension of disbelief (although the “albino” makeup was a little garish; I really thought they were the vampire at first); I felt some of the actors did very well in their roles, with some notable standouts in my opinion being Michael Coon, Nick Faust, and April Jennings. Joe Estevez (which if you close your eyes could be his brother, Martin Sheen) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre II’s Bill Johnson anchor the film with some horror-flick cred, although their roles are small.
What impressed me was the different take on the entire subgenre; not just shifting the perspective to the titular “caretakers”, but by borrowing from both actual and “movie” folklore, then embellishing the overall mythos with some new twists and turns that I found pretty clever. I’m not going to give any of them away here, of course, but suffice to say that these “tweaks” are well-thought out and plausible, and don’t come across as some ham-handed writer’s bullshit attempt to make a bit of folklore fit his script…I came away with a couple of nice new wrinkles to consider in the whole legend of vampirism.
So, in summation, I found The Caretakers to be an above-average indie flick with the bonus of a nice new spin on its source material; is it a flick that will change the way you look at horror movies? Well of course not; however, it never lost me, it kept me entertained, and I don’t regret the time I spent watching it…not a bad pedigree for any indie flick.
That’s my two cents, anyways.
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