December 31, 2012

Filthy Review - 'The Thompsons'

The Thompsons (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

Back in 2006 a subtle and disturbing vampire flick was made by The Butcher Brothers. The film hit theaters as part of the After Dark Horrorfest, of which I managed to catch a few on the big screen. The Hamiltons was something a little different to other vampire movies; was it even a vampire flick? The titular family needed to feed, on blood of course, but it was always referred to as the disease, and many other traditional aspects of vampirism were distinctly absent. Regardless, it was a good movie and a solid calling card from the directing partnership.

Following The Hamiltons, the Butcher Brothers hit Hollywood and made the ill-conceived April Fool’s Day remake in 2008, and then the poorly received The Violent Kind in 2010. With The Thompsons they have finally returned to the Hamiltons, with this sequel. You won’t really need to have seen the 2006 movie, because there is a recap of sorts, to fill you in, although I would recommend giving it a viewing.

On the run from the police, the family Hamilton has changed their name to Thompson, and face desperate times. They need a place to hide out, so what better destination than good old England? It is here that Francis has been sent to search for a character known as Manderson, who’s only known location is a town called Ludlow. It is here that they hope they can find sanctuary. This is not without its problems though.

With The Thompsons the Butcher Brothers have taken a different approach to the style of film. The Hamiltons was a subtle, but still moderately violent, horror movie that focused as much on the family dynamics as it did anything else. With this sequel they have taken a slightly more pulpy approach; it’s a slicker and more in your face type of movie. The violence has been amped up considerably, with some terrifically gory moments, and whilst family is still the core theme, this is most definitely a more aggressive film.

Visually it’s pleasant to the eye, mixing the baking hot American landscape with England’s green and promised land, with blood being shed on both sides of the Atlantic, and the effects are pretty good for the most part.

The cast are all watchable, although I would have liked to have seen a little more of the returning Ryan Hartwig, who ripped up the screen in The Aggression Scale recently. Front and center though is Cory Knauf, who also returns as Francis, and you might also have seen in the excellent Godspeed. Overall the cast is very good, even when some of the scenes call from some dubious over-acting.

The Thompsons is a really solid film. It wasn’t spectacular, to my eyes, but I did enjoy watching it and as a sequel it worked to expand of the story of The Hamiltons, and definitely erases the memory of April Fool’s Day. The Butcher Brothers definitely have the talent to make some outstanding films, and The Thompsons is most certainly a step in the right direction. They have delivered vampires (if that is what they are) that don’t mess about; think more along the lines of Near Dark, rather than something like the Twilight Saga, and they certainly don’t hold back on the claret. They have in effect created their own mythology within a mythology, and it is one that is worth watching.

Released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on XLrator Media’s Macabre imprint, this is a very nice release with a good selection of extras included. The picture and sound, on the Blu-ray disc, were both well above average, although the clarity of picture did help to draw attention to a couple of less than special CGI moments.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Thompsons, but I ended up pleasantly surprised. It would have been easy for the Butcher’s to make a carbon copy of The Hamiltons, which would have been pointless, yet instead they have given it a shot of juice to the system and delivered a good solid vampire flick about family, albeit very violent families.

The Thompsons is available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo and DVD from XLrator Media.

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