October 30th, the last hour before midnight and the sparse crowd of night owls are watching Murnau’s Nosferatu when a bloodied man runs in to the auditorium, at first hiding behind the seats before running onto the stage to warn the annoyed onlookers. Understandably, they don’t listen; there’s no such things as vampires.
On a dark desert highway, Ariel is paying more attention to her phone than what is on the road ahead; the bump is slight and fortunately neither she nor the driver of the other vehicle are injured, but he is acting oddly, his bare chest smeared with blood and taking the wheel of her car when he cannot get his own to start.
His name is Joshua and he says he is being chased; Ariel is unconvinced, feeling she is being kidnapped, but then the lights of the silver camper van appear on the road behind them and then she sees a vision of her dead mother; Joshua tries to explain but she doesn’t believe him because there’s no such thing as vampires…
A world premiere hosted at FrightFest’s digital event, There’s No Such Things as Vampires was co-written by director Logan Thomas and Aric Cushing who also plays the cloaked driver of the pursuing vehicle, while Josh Plasse and Emma Holzer are Joshua and Ariel, he already terrified and she initially sceptical but rapidly joining him in frenzied conviction.
The opening shots of the passing road markings in headlights recalling Lynch’s Lost Highway, Thomas’ score blends the ambience of Angelo Badalamenti and the percussive edge of Brad Fiedel’s main theme for The Terminator, but while narratively it occupies a lane parallel to Near Dark and Duel the grinding gear changes mean it is an uneven ride.
The dead may travel fast, but while the first pit stop at the Chapel of the Martyr allows Meg Foster’s Sister Frank to share the tale of the Valley of the Dark Wind the second with Ariel’s movie buff friend who just happens to have been watching a silent movie which provides him with the opportunity for a show-and-tell lecture is stepping on the brakes when tension and atmosphere should be the destination.
While many of the scenes of There’s No Such Thing as Vampires are individually effective as a whole it is disjointed, unconvincing answers freely given when mysterious questions would be more engaging and Joshua and Ariel’s decision to postpone reporting their assailant to the police in favour of taking a nap not so much suspending disbelief as hanging it by the neck.
Thomas hoping to develop his story beyond this film, the bones of his mythology have insufficient meat to provide adequate sustenance and it might have been more prudent to concentrate on crafting a single film of more scope and urgency than hope for the possibility of a sequel that may be little more than a mirage.