Ah, vampires. They are one of those genres, zombies are another, that just seems very tired and worn out. So imagine my surprise when Living Among Us turned out to be tense, interesting and fun and made the vampire genre feel different and new again. This is no small feat and while the movie wasn’t perfect it certainly held my attention from start to finish.
I will say I was a bit skeptical about the found footage/documentary mix of storytelling. However, it was mixed together pretty well and made the viewer feel like they really were a part of what’s going on, no small feat in this genre. The plot basically tells the story of how vampires have just gone public, announcing themselves to the world, and how a documentary crew has been granted access to their world, to see how they live and to find out what they are really like. Of course, nothing is ever this simple and things end up going haywire, for both humans and vampires alike.
Writer/director Brian Metcalf does a great job setting the scene with an interesting premise and then dropping the viewer inside the vampire bubble, so to speak. He builds things with a nice pace and gives the actors, especially some of the veteran talent here, not only some interesting dialogue but interesting ideas to convey as well.
Speaking of the talent, this was an impressive mix of newer and familiar faces. The late John Heard (Andrew) is part of the vampire family being filmed and the always impressive William Sadler (Samuel) is the face or mouthpiece for the vampires, trying to show their compassion and how they feel no ill will against humans. Rounding out the vampires are Elleanor (Esme Bianco), Blake (Andrew Keegan) and Selvin (Chad TodHunter). Not only is it a nice mix of actors but a very different collection of characters, showing off very different parts of the vampire lifestyle.
The crew doing the documentary consists of three people, Mike (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Carrie (Jordan Hinson) and Benny (Hunter Gomez). Skeptical and cocky, the crew walk into this situation figuring there is something going on that is not quite right, but in the end, they had no idea what was lurking behind the scenes, including secret ceremonies and of course a basement that was off limits.
It was an interesting choice to use the mockumentary style news setup at the start and end of the movie. Bookending the documentary with some social commentary about the whole vampire/human relationship, with views from both sides, came off a bit cheesy at times but I think it was necessary and offered up some engaging political and social ideas. I think it ended up helping the film more than hurting it, although I would have liked some more time with some of the interesting characters in the vampire household.
There were some obvious plot setups and some weird character interactions but I’m just nitpicking now. Living Among Us was a solid film, tense, great atmosphere and a lot of fun. It was a refreshing look at a tired genre and showed filmmakers and fans alike that yes, vampires can still be interesting.
Four stars out of five
- Great setup and nice, tense atmosphere
- Solid mix of new and veteran acting talent
- Good pace and build up
- Some character interactions were strange, mixed with odd dialogue