So many know that the horror genre, for the most part has cycles or trends, the early eighties two battles for supremacy slashers and werewolves, ever since then others fight for position, this time it’s vampires, although there’s many howling at the moon, to conquer one more. No longer do the vampires wear a tuxedo, and think they’re heading to a fancy bloodsucker ball, rather they hunt with pleasure and bloodlust. This brings us to the latest entry, which horror icon Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator  and Chopping Mall ) and has made a return back to the top of her game with Reborn  and Replace  worked to bring to the forefront, for over five-years, ever since first reading the script and sunk its fangs into her. It is true that this is rarity when the actress becomes obsessed with a project and strives for it to emerge from the darkness of a writers’ mind to screen. Speaking of writers, there were three of them, Kathy Charles (Castle Freak , Mark Steensland (The Special  and finally, Travis Stevens (Girl on the Third Floor ), who also served as director and individuals with a wealth of experience in the filmmaker business. Their script and film explores marriage, conformity, and vampirism, with some comedy.
The story opens from Pastor Jakob’s (Larry Fessenden (The Battery )) pulpit where he’s preaching against the changing roles in society, rather than men and women embracing the roles from the bible, extending it to mean the woman, subservient, and then men treat her body as their own. Now, why do I start this review here because many other critics, question or even find it laughable as make believe; however, there are plenty of sermons and people that actually believe this concept as religious law, in the Christian faith this is important as Fessenden delivers his role with that believability conviction. His attitude continues outside of his church, with condescending behavior to his wife Anne (Barbara Crampton), he’s controlling, never letting her complete sentences, none of her own thoughts allowed, expect his demands fulfilled first, however there is no abuse per say though shown in other mannerisms. Meanwhile, her actions while silent in the early portion of the film show her brooding, resetting her life choices, attaching herself to him for safety and abandoning adventure and fun of her youth. However, more on that later, after the opening services, we meet a young parishioner named Amelia (Nyisha Bell) who finds her own horrors in the night, and vanishes without a trace, prompting the police to investigate, with an early nod in the direction of Jakob. It all suddenly changes when an old boyfriend, and perhaps lover Tom (Robert Rusler) returns to town, for a land investment deal involving an old mill. They venture to the mill, share in passionate kissing and soon discover coffins in the in basement and while Tom falls into a rat-trap Anne has an encounter with an evil spawn, that changes her, perhaps for the better, no longer the domestic slave to her husband, this portion of the film reminds me a little of Teen Wolf (1985) meets My Best Friend is Vampire , Barbara does a stellar cool swagger stroll in the supermarket past the meat department. As for the evil spawn vampire, his appearance is similar to Salem’s Lot  meets Nosferatu , known as
The Master (Bonnie Aarons, (The Conjuring 2 )). Some enjoy the comical scenes and lines, however I find it a detriment to the film, a comical line helps break tension but too many ruins an otherwise entertaining film, although watching Anne dance with a lamp to the song “Bloodletting” by Concrete Blonde, is fun. Oh, one mustn’t forget the in-laws her brother-in-law Bob and Carol Fedder, (portrayed by Mark Kelly (Dead & Breakfast  and Sarah Lind (WolfCop ) who have their own views of Anne, but it all gets much worse when they see her fixing herself a dinner meal. While their roles are heavily limited, they make the most of what screen time is afforded to them and working against the pacing of the story. Lastly, it is quite comical how Jakob tries to act as the leader around his vampiric wife, rather than embrace her strengths and allow new freedom, but how it all ends, is for you to witness the power of Anne’s awakening.
While there aren’t many technical issues, the locations used all fit the rural area, the special effects give a good solid splatter of blood loss, to please the gorehounds, and few squeamish scenes of rat-munches. There’s a subtle usage of duality in the film, it appears at first as accidental but there are at least two scenes, the first is when Anne is sitting at her vanity, one half of her is shown in the light and the in darkness, though it goes deeper in meaning to a religious level. The right side is considering the righteous portion, i.e., the right hand of the Lord while the left side is in darkness and representation of sins. When it occurs a second time after her transformation now shown as a blurred double image, herself and the lustful creature giving her the empowerment to express a deadlier version. The main crux of the story is focused on characters primary in their 40s and older, which is a change from the customary teenagers and a bigger body count, it’s refreshing and, often these roles subjected to secondary or typecast. Herein the actors have respective roles that allow them to explore somewhat.
Overall, I have mixed views about this film, while the chemistry between Larry and Barbara are top notched, however it uses the trope of the wife feeling trapped in her marriage looking for release, a path often leading to witchcraft as a form of liberation, in such movies as The Witch , Burn, Witch Burn , and Season of the Witch  not always as exploring sexual dynamics, but rebellion against pure tyrannical or religious controls, that seem often as the same. Nevertheless, one might dislike the comical aspects, a straightforward blood splattered horror works far better, and can make for a lovely couple’s therapy flick, with some great sequences to delight.
- Who’s Your Master?
- Some marriages are truly blessed
IMDb Rating: 5.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10