When I heard the latest spoof from Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, Vampires Suck, had been leaked to the internets a few weeks back, I considered downloading it just to see if it was an actual movie or another series of gags, assuming it would never be screened for critics (and I morally cannot condone paying for one of their films). But I forgot all about it and went on my merry way, until today, when I heard there was indeed a screening going on (not specifically for press, but there was a way to get in as press and not wait in line. We also got free concessions!). So let’s be clear: I saw this movie for free, with no hassle whatsoever, and was given a blank check for the candy line.
This movie is f*cking terrible.
I can actually tell you the number of times I laughed over the course of the 80 minute film: four. One really hard laugh (courtesy of Deidrich Bader, one of the only two actors I recognized – they couldn’t even get Carmen Electra to contribute her usual cameo), and three chuckles. The good laugh was pretty early on – when Bella tells her dad that she’s not a little girl anymore, he replies “I know, look at those tits!” – it was such a horribly out of line response that I couldn’t help but laugh. A mildly amusing sight gag involving her iPod playlists (including a song with lyrics like “I’m angsty, I’m so down…” or something) immediately followed, and I almost started to suspect that the movie might not be that bad after all.
Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh or smile again for another 20 minutes or so, despite an attempted joke every 15 seconds on average. The next time I laughed was Bader again, telling her that she wasn’t very pretty and would never get another dreamboat like Edward. This is why you hire a guy like Bader – hardly a comic genius but someone who can deliver a line – he can actually make this stuff amusing, unlike the rest of the cast. Even Ken Jeong is an embarrassment – I was hoping he’d rise above the material, but he actually comes off the worst in his 2-3 minutes of screentime, because you KNOW he can be funny.
Laugh #3 was basically stolen from “The Simpsons” (Bella and Jess walk out of a screening of Breaking Dawn and spoil the ending, much like Homer “spoiled” Empire Strikes Back in a flashback episode), but it was still funny. The fourth and final laugh occurred during the scene where Bella goes to the Cullen home (by the way, I’m using their real names, but in the movie, apart from Edward, they’re all slightly changed – Bella is Becca, Cullen is Sullen, etc), as they do the papercut gag and then milk it. This is the rare scene in the film that felt like a scene out of an 80s or 90s spoof (you know, the good ones), as it took something that happened for real and then took it to the extreme – she eventually fills a champagne glass tower with her blood, which Emmett and Carlyle take a glass from and sip gracefully. The biggest problem with these two ass-clowns is that their jokes often have no buildup whatsoever, so it’s nice to see them try, even if it was an obvious gag.
But for every joke that works, there are so, so many that don’t. Even though the bulk of the crowd seemed into it (even a simple fart joke went over like gangbusters), there were a lot that no one laughed at. I mean, yeah, even Airplane! has a few DOA jokes, but they can get away with it, considering how many work perfectly. It would be generous for me to say 2/3 of the jokes hit, with the other 1/3 not eliciting so much as a chuckle from this obviously easy to please crowd. Not to mention lazy – the lights were on at half-dim for the entire movie, no one complained.
And I really hate how often they feel the need to explain their bad jokes, which just makes them worse. At one point Bella pulls out a guitar (this movie must set a record for characters pulling things out of thin air) and begins playing a corny ballad in an obvious parody of Taylor Swift. Yet, even if it was funny to begin with (it wasn’t), someone else in the scene says “Stop acting like Taylor Swift!” or something along those lines. Do they have so much contempt for their audience that they can’t even trust us to understand their obvious jokes? Or do they actually think that it’s funny to say the person’s name aloud? They did remove the Lady Gaga “identification” from the trailer, however – way to show restraint, guys.
The one nice thing I can say about it is that it stays on target for the most part, and keeps pop culture references to a decent minimum. The movie will be just as unfunny in 30 years, but 90-95% of the unfunny jokes are “timeless”, with the others destined to be puzzling for viewers in the next generation, who won’t know who the Kardashians or the Jersey Shore douchebags are. Instead, they actually stick to Twilight/New Moon for the film’s running time, with every scene in the film being a direct parody of one from the first two films (some, like Bella’s “depression” montage from New Moon, don’t even really play out any differently – if anything it was funnier in the real movie). Even when they do lapse into their usual “current” target jokes, they are kept to a minimum – Alice from Wonderland suddenly shows up in the woods, and Edward accidentally kills her moments later. Again, it’s not funny at all, but at least it has some semblance of a plot, instead of just a bunch of random gags (their last abortion, Disaster Movie, was largely made up of parodies of scenes from the TRAILERS for those films, because most of the films they were mocking weren’t even out yet when Friedberg/Seltzer were in production).
However, the fact that they stick to the material makes some of their choices odd. For example, why turn Jess into such a bitch/antagonist for Bella? It’s not funny in any way, and serves no function to the plot – I would think they could have had more humor in the way that (at least in the film) Bella seems to have no real attachment to these folks and ignores them more often than not. Also, there isn’t a single werewolf in the movie – Jacob turns into a chihuahua, and the other guys just dance around like Village People rejects. Guess doing the wolf effects would have sent their budget out of control. Or, more likely, they just didn’t care (witness Jacob’s long, rat-like tail instead of anything resembling that of a wolf. Or a chihuahua, for that matter).
I can give them some props for finding a terrific lead in Jenn Proske. She doesn’t improve on the material (enough to get a laugh anyway), but she’s endlessly watchable, and perfectly nails Kristen Stewart’s mumbly and introverted mannerisms. And she’s truly a new find – her IMDb has no other credits, not even a “Girl at bar” from some shit-com or a corpse on a procedural. Hopefully she can move on to bigger things (anything would be “better”) and leave this thing off her resume. Their location scout also did a fine job of matching the locales in the real films; I could have sworn it was the same town, but it wasn’t even the same state (the film was shot in Louisiana).
Ultimately, the most insulting thing about the film is that it was made, and made so poorly. You’d think mocking the Twi-films would be like shooting fish in a barrel, but Friedberg/Seltzer completely failed to mine the material for anything even approaching quality satire (the jokes are so predictable I actually called out a punchline 30 seconds before it occurred at one point). Someone with talent and brains could have made a really funny parody of the series, but instead we got this. I know – people found it funny, but these folks will obviously laugh at anything, so why not expand their target audience and put some f*cking effort into it? And I don’t know what the budget was, but their other films were all around 20 million – think of how many quality low budget horror films from legitimate filmmakers could have been made from that money. Hell, the studio could have picked up a few existing titles on the cheap and spent the rest of that 20 million on marketing/releasing them in theaters. Or given it to charity. Or eaten it. Instead, they spent it on this – and the sad thing is, the Twi-fans are likely to make it a hit just because it’s better than nothing while they wait for Breaking Dawn to hit.
And if you think I’m wrong, here’s the crowd last night, cheering to get a poster for the film:
That depressed me the most – I knew the movie would be bad, but I didn’t think I’d be in the minority in thinking so.
Read more of BC’s reviews at his Horrormovieaday blog.