Stars 3

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson return as vampires Bella and Edward for one last bite of the cherry in the final chapter of the Twilight saga which doesn’t hold back on the tooth and claw.

Until now the franchise has been an anaemic exercise that was all teeth and no trousers but this time the gothic horror runs red with passion, anger and blood.

Bella and Edward’s daughter has been wrongly accused of being an immortal child by the Volturi, the royal family of vampires, and so as a threat to them they have decided she must die.

To protect her child, the now rampant Bella must gather help from a motley crew of vampires and werewolves in order to face down the Volturi in a final confrontation.

Stewart is full of furious, motherly anger and rips into her role with gusto, putting Pattinson firmly in her shadow.

Taylor Lautner as Jacob the love-sick werewolf is more petulant than ever and still afraid to put his shirt on, despite the heavy snow on the ground.

Michael Sheen is a great actor and as Aro, the leader of the Volturi, he is a prowling, preening, power hungry vampire who has the best fun delivering the film’s lines.

The film is beautiful to look at, not just for the actors but the stunning Canadian landscape is majestic in its wild, snow-covered glory.

There is again lots of running through forests and jumping from treetops but when the film kicks off in the second half there is some excellent fight choreography and the final confrontation is terrifically and excitingly staged.

I haven’t read the books and I’ve no idea if this is a faithful adaptation or not but I do know this is a handsome and exciting finale to a consistent and successful franchise.

If you’re not a fan of the film series this probably won’t make you change your mind, but if you are then you won’t be disappointed.

Underworld: Blood Wars

Director: Anna Foerster (2017) BBFC cert: 15

Not quite alive but still stalking us, the fifth film in this vampire franchise fails to offer much bite.

Kate Beckinsale slips back into her latex and leather catsuit as the renegade warrior vampire, Selene.

She’s being hunted by vampires and werewolves who want to exploit the powers of young daughter in their eternal war.

The plot drips with blood, birthright and betrayals. Sacred swords are taken up against poison bullets in a landscape of castles and frozen waterfalls. There’s plenty of blood splatting video game action and the stunt team do sterling work.

The venerable Charles Dance aside, the men are deathly dull. Fortunately Lara Pulver is there it raise the spirits as Semira, a lusty, busty, bad ass who amps up the camp in her vamp.

Filming in Prague adds a suitably gothic feel and presumably helped keep costs down. This episode cost half as much as the previous one, and it shows in the consistently shoddy CGI.



What We Do In The Shadows

Director: Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement (2015)

This dead-pan mockumentary about flat-sharing vampires lacks sufficient bite to be funny.

Offering low-key, bone-dry humour, this undead oddity struggles to come to life and struggles with weak plotting and indulgent pacing.

It feels more like a series of thin sketches strung together than a fully realised feature film and it’s no surprise to learn it was based on a short film made by the same team.

Four vampires of varying age share a house. Viago (Taika Waititi) is a 317 year old Georgian dandy who organises the house. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is 862 and a medieval vampire in the Turk-skewering tradition. Petyr (Ben Fransham) is an 8,000 year old Nosfertu type who lurks rat-like and unspeaking in the cellar. Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) is a former travelling salesman who was turned by Petyr and a relatively youthful 183.

Viago’s faithful familiar (servant) Jackie (Jackie Van Beek) is increasingly disillusioned at her prospects of ever being turned into a vampire and is incensed when her dinner guest Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macue) jumps the queue. He slowly learns life as a bloodsucker isn’t as much fun as he first imagined.

Zombies and werewolves all appear at the Unholy Masquerade, an undead ball where Vladislav confronts his nemesis he refers to as The Beast.

Strip aside the vampires stylings and what’s left are some humdrum observations about four mundane middle-aged blokes sharing a house in genteel poverty and struggling to adjust to a changing world. Their vampire problems don’t inform their contemporary concerns or vice versa.

Jokes rely on mastering the internet and name-checking movies The Lost Boys, the Twilight franchise and Blade. They seek far too much comedy mileage out of unresolved domestic squabbles such as whose turn is it to do the washing up.

The strongest aspect of the production is the design by Ra Vincent whose shabby drawing room chic is complemented by deeply textured interior lighting by cinematographers Richard Bluck and D.J. Stipsen.

The use of shaky cam is unavoidable, the flying stunts are nicely realised and old-school blood splurts are enjoyably silly.

Writer-directors-actors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement are both connected to The Flight of the Conchords. Completists of their work may be keen to see this but everyone else may decide to opt for a wooden stake through the heart instead.