Missing girl Rachel is actually a recently-turned vampire, a half-breed desperately trying to stay hidden away while she tries to stem her growing urge to kill. Loyal boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Coon) is willing to commit murders on the forlorn Rachel's behalf, always on the look-out for victims who match her blood-type and therefore are likely to sate her needs for a short while. But her hunger is getting more profound between each fresh kill, and she's even having trouble restraining herself from lashing out physically at Jimmy...
In the meantime Rachel's rich father Lyons (Bill Johnson) continues to search for with the aid of two detectives, led by Parker (Joe Estevez). He's shocked to learn that their findings suggest a clandestine world of vampires that operates in secret tandem with the world he knows. With Parker's encouragement, Lyons delves deeper into this mysterious world in a bid to locate Rachel.
The truth, we soon learn, is that Rachel had been captured by a gang employed to secure regular human bait for authentic vampire Katherine (April Jennings). Jimmy had managed to save her from the vampire's lair, but not before she had herself been "turned".
Now Katherine is equally keen to catch up with Rachel. Her caretaker, Jack (Nick Faust), is an aging man with a quiet disposition. Despite his proclamations of love for his mistress, his heart just doesn't appear to be in his job anymore.
And so, Katherine, has saved a father and daughter couple - Scott (Kenneth R Root) and Jodie (Lucy Turner) - from a local serial killer (Rob Mills) so that Jack can train them as his apprentices. The idea is he will retire to be with his true love, a local nightclub barmaid, once Scott and Jodie are fully versed in catering for Katherine's needs.
As is probably evident, THE CARETAKERS - the latest film from West Kentucky-based indie company Big Biting Pig Productions - has quite a lot going on in its screenplay. There are a great deal of characters getting introduced at various stages, various sub-plots running parallel to one another, and a keen sense of treating the bloodsucking genre with an indie eye a la Larry Fessenden's HABIT or the more recent MIDNIGHT SON.
Thankfully, this "indie" slant eschews Tarantino-esque snappy dialogue and self-conscious cultural references. Rather, we get lo-fi settings (bars, bedrooms etc) and nicely nuanced performances which allow director Steve Hudgins' intelligent, pensive script room to breathe.
The result is a thoughtful, reflective and rather different take on the modern vampire genre. It's still righteously gory at times - Jimmy's serial killing exploits are quite brutal - but there's a firm step away from cliché here, in favour of character development and intricate storytelling. Echoes of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN are undeniable with regards to the premise of a vampire's caretaker coming to the end of his term, and stylistically it could be argued that both films possess an autumnal tone. But, those factors aside, there are very few similarities to be found between the two.
THE CARETAKERS is beautifully shot, considerately editing and boasts a highly effective score to boot. Performances are largely very good, with only Root failing to convince in his supporting role.
Nominated for Best Indie Film at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards ceremony, and Best Feature Film at the HorrorHound Film Festival, THE CARETAKERS offers something fresh and interesting for lovers of vampire cinema. It's a tad overlong but this can be forgiven.
It's great to come across a low-budget indie horror film that takes itself seriously, isn't afraid to merge complex storytelling with moral ambiguity (there are no clean-cut instances of good-versus-evil here, such is the intelligent fleshing-out of each character), and still manages to score on the gore-o-meter too.
As yet unreleased officially, you can find out more about the film and Big Biting Pig Productions by visiting www.bigbitingpigproductions.com.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Big Biting Pig Productions|
|see main review|