Bloodsucking Bastards might have had an easier time if it was made 15 years ago. It’s the exact type of movie one might encounter in the horror section at Blockbuster, its vaguely provocative title and bloodstained box art enticing adolescents to slip the DVD case in the pile underneath whatever PG-rated rental (let’s just say The Phantom Menace) Mom approved for the sleepover. And while they might have been disappointed by the lack of nudity, those same adolescents would have been delighted by the cornucopia of porn-and-video-game jokes and exploding torsos in this horror-comedy, which they would deem “awesome.” It might even gain a minor cult following as a result.
But things are different now. Now Bloodsucking Bastards has to rely on dedicated horror fans to seek it out on VOD and in specialty theaters to make back its budget, which, to be fair, probably wasn’t that much. (A good rule for low-budget filmmaking is to work with what’s available, which in this case means an office building—or at least a reasonable facsimile of one—a parking garage, and a Stanley Steemer gift certificate.) A smattering of recognizable faces will help: Fran Kranz, a.k.a. spastic stoner Marty from The Cabin In The Woods, stars as Evan, a cubicle drone who’s expecting a promotion from acting sales manager to actual sales manager. But then his boss hands the job to his college nemesis, Max (Game Of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal), instead. Evan thinks Max is a dick, and he is. He’s also a vampire, and as their co-workers begin to turn, Evan, his on-again-off-again girlfriend Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick), and his best friend Tim (Cabin Fever’s Joey Kern, sporting a “poor man’s Matthew McConaughey” look) rally together to fight back.
Anyone old enough to have actually held a corporate job may be too old to truly appreciate the humor in Bloodsucking Bastards, which is in the Workaholics vein (no pun intended) but fueled by Red Bull instead of pot. (Speaking of, the energy drink company must have sponsored, or at least approved of, this film. It’s mentioned by name, and one character sucks it down like Barney Gumble drinks Duff.) This pogo-stick energy translates into the script, written by the members of L.A.-based comedy troupe Dr. God. Even when the jokes seem inspired more by Office Space than actual office life, they’re delivered with good humor, which always goes a long way in selling these things. Some, like a line referring to a dead vampire’s “Jackson Pollock impression,” are actually kind of clever.
So while this is all rather dumb, it’s dumb fun, and aside from some incongruous soundtrack choices—the credits music encourages us to “burn down the disco,” which, sure, but during office hours?—director Brian James O’Connell plays all of his tonal elements right, which is to say fast-paced; goofy; and very, very bloody. The last act of Bloodsucking Bastards features geysers of the red stuff, another touch that will please the adolescent and adolescent-at-heart audiences for whom a film like this is made. It Follows it isn’t. But for a Friday night rental with some friends and a six-pack (or three), you could do much worse.