Making a movie is a natural way for a comedy group to broaden its reach in the world of entertainment: for the gold standard example, look no further than Broken Lizard and their beloved cult movie, Super Troopers. The Dr. God comedy group has taken this path to potential glory and tapped both the horror genre and the office-set comedy to make their debut film venture, Bloodsucking Bastards. The result is a piece of work that shows both the joys and the growing pains of a comedy group trying to translate their style to the big screen.
Bloodsucking Bastards takes place in the corporate world, set in a company where slackers try to do as little as possible while ignoring the fact that their company is in trouble. Evan (Fran Kranz) is an exception to this rule and wants to work up to middle management. He gets his hopes up when the boss (Joel Murray) says changes are about to occur but those hopes are dashed when Max (Pedro Pascal) is brought in to take the slot.
This former college rival of Evan’s has eyes for Evan’s girlfriend Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick), a situation that is complicated by the fact that Evan is currently on the outs with her. However, Max presents a bigger problem: he is a vampire who is turning the staff into his minions. Evan is thus forced to find his inner Van Helsing with the help of slacker pal Tim (Joey Kern) and security guard Frank (Marshall Givens).
Bloodsucking Bastards starts off kind of rough: the patchy script relies on improv to keep it afloat and blatantly cribs from its obvious influences, namely Office Space, The Office and Shaun Of The Dead. The direction by Brian James O’Connell tends towards a flat, t.v.-ish visual style and all the office satire archetypes on display have a pre-fab quality, suggesting this satire of office life was drawn from movies about office life rather than the real thing. Performances are suitably energetic but Kranz seems a little over-kinetic in trying to prop up the material.
That said, comedy fans might find the film worth sticking with because Bloodsucking Bastards perks up as it goes along, particularly in its last half-hour. At this point, the characterizations click in a way that they didn’t in the first half, the satire develops a new accuracy in how it hits its targets and the film throws in some fun Monty Python-style mock-splatter. The cast all shines during the final stretch, with Givens and Kern proving themselves to be excellent, deadpan scene-stealers. Pascal, who is better known for dramatic work, also makes a fun alpha-jerk-as-real-monster villain.
In short, Bloodsucking Bastards is a rough-hewn but ultimately enjoyable piece of work that shows promise for the Dr. God group. If they can learn to harness cinematic language to their knack for improv, they may be able to make a movie that is as consistently engaging as this film’s final half-hour.
Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory has released this title on blu-ray. The transfer captures the straightforward digital cinematography pretty well, juxtaposing the splashes of blood against the drab office color scheme nicely. Both 5.1 and 2.0 lossless stereo tracks are provided: the 5.1 track was used for this review and it’s a pretty good track for a low-budget affair, with an effective use of music and some convincing office-sound ambiance.
A fistful of extras are also included. A commentary track with the Dr. God group is loose and jokey, more of a crowd viewing track than a true commentary, but it does have some incidental info about the cast and a few on-set stories. A quick set of outtakes is devoted to bloopers and extra improv beats while “BSB On Set” is a quick EPK piece with Kern introducing the segment and discussing his castmates. A trailer offers a punchy spot that leans on the comedy. Fans should also note that there’s an easter egg that offers a few bonus promo clips.