Director: The Butcher Brothers

Starring: Cory Knauf, Elizabeth Henstridge, Samuel Child, Joseph McKelheer, Mackenzie Firgens, Daniel O’Meara and Selina Giles

Certificate: 18

Running time: 79 Minutes

Synopsis: On the run with the law on their trail, America’s most anguished vampire family heads to England to find an ancient vampire clan. What they find instead could tear their family – and throats – apart forever…

Continuing the bloodthirsty antics of THE HAMILTONS, the Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores) follow-up thier 2008 cult thriller with an altogether more action-packed horror film that certainly ups the ante (admittidly due to a much bigger budget). For those unfamiliar with the duo’s previous entry, the plot saw the remaining members of a vampire clan having to fend for themselves after the death of their parents. To be fair, the idea was unique and actually worked well despite some very, very amatuerish acting, writing, and direction. The dark family dynamic was played as a dysfunctional (and often incestuous) drama, taking out the cliched supernatural elements and treating their thirst as a genetic disease, and for the most part, a coming-of-age tale, focusing on Francis and his struggle to deal with the loss of his parents and need to harvest human blood to survive.

Straight after catching up with first part, in went the sequel, which sees all four actors returning to their roles, this time as more experienced performers. The four seem to have honed thier acting with a bit more professionalism (and bite). The direction too, seems to be a whole lot more assured with the main cast now having worked together with Altieri and Flores a number of times (for good or bad) in the likes of THE VIOLENT KIND, APRIL FOOLS’ DAY in addition to THE HAMILTONS. The graphic DVD covers and posters for both films have been superbly designed, which also deserve a special mention.

This time around, the family (now known as THE THOMPSONS) have escaped to the UK in the aftermath of their grisly crimes, and attempt to locate another bloodsucking brood who maybe able to help save their fatally wounded brother Lenny. Again, the focus is on Cory Knauf’s Francis: his narratation guides us through their latest, much gorier adventure. Set for the most part in the small village of Ludow, I began to fear the worst, especially having recently seen another vampire film set in another sleepy British village, the awful THE REVEREND. Thankfully, it’s nowhere near as bad.

Despite a number of gaping plot holes (just how did they get their bloodied, bullet-ridden little brother across to the UK), this follow-up is a lot less serious than the previous entry, with a slick but ultimately souless plot. Yes, it looks nicer, sharper and the babes are bloody stunning, but the allurement of THE HAMILTONS has been lost in the midst of the practical/digital effects and action set-pieces (crimson eyes, faces peeled off, throats ripped out) to make the clan appear more vicious and confident in face of a much greater threat this time around (THE TWILIGHT SAGA even gets a name check).

Overall, THE THOMPSONS is definitely a better film than its predecessor. It’s also a sequel that stands on its own without the need to see THE HAMILTONS. However, had the previous entry been as accomplished and executed in much the same way, that films’ originality and individuality could have risen it well above this and other genre entries, creating something even more mainstream and special, rather than just the straight-to-DVD cult fave it has now become. They are both better than any of the TWILIGHT films (flaws’n’all)… but than again, isn’t everything?

 THE THOMPSONS is released on DVD 15th October