Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The Familiar (2009)
In this quirky short film, Sam (Torrance Combs) is a vampire’s assistant, or familiar. At first, he thought it was his dream job, but his boss, the vampire Bolivar (Paul Hubbard), is a real nightmare! From disposing of bodies to taking care of the bosses’ finances to bathing his dead body, Sam pretty much does all of the vampire’s menial and disgusting tasks, getting little back for his loyal service. As he says, “I wanted to meet Dracula and I ended up serving Danny Bonaduce with fangs.” Sam sticks with the horrible job with hopes that Bolivar will eventually make him into a vampire as well, but when Sam finds out the truth about vampires and his position all bets are off.
The Familiar is a hilarious short film from writer and director Kody Zimmermann, full of quotable lines, great performances and is just an overall fun experience. Zimmermann wrote the film after a horrible experience as a personal assistant to a Hollywood actor. After that experience, Zimmermann became interested in what Renfield’s point of view might have been in Dracula as well as addressing how countless underpaid and underappreciated assistants feel every day. Keeping that in mind, Zimmermann decided to helm the unforgettable Familiar short.
With a quick wit, perfect comic timing and clever cultural quips (Sam asks, “Do all vampires know jujitsu so they can fight Buffy and Blade?”), Zimmermann’s script is whip smart. This is his first writing credit on IMDB.com, but I sure hope he writes something else because his immense talent shouldn’t go to waste! If his humor peppered TV shows and more films the world would be a better place!
His direction isn’t shoddy either, and The Familiar looks pretty damn amazing taking into consideration its small budget. We aren’t talking anything fancy here, but it still looks great and doesn’t have that low-budget look that haunts most indie films. Even the special effects that are peppered throughout the film look professional. My favorite would have to be an impressive staking of a vampire and the subsequent burning by sunlight. The fact that the film is low budget AND a short film makes it all that much more impressive.
The two leading actors, Torrance Combs and Paul Hubbard who play Sam and the vampire Bolivar, respectively, do a fine job as well. Their stellar acting also makes the film seem like it’s got a much bigger budget. And it wasn’t just the two leads that were great, it was also the supporting actors who gave strong performances, among them Jason Harder who played a vampire slayer and Art Ritching who played, as Sam calls him, “the vamp equivalent to the Godfather”.
My only complaint about the short is that it isn’t longer. Zimmermann has said that the only reason that The Familiar was made into a short was because of monetary constraints, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day this will be made into a full-length feature because I think it would be a smash hit and has the potential to be the funniest horror film since Shaun of the Dead! In fact, The Familiar does for vampires what Shaun of the Dead did for zombies.
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