Monday, 25 October 2010



Much is being made of the upcoming Let Me In, the US remake of the highly acclaimed Swedish film Let The Right One In, as the rebirth of our own beloved Hammer Films. The trouble is, it isn't. All the way back in 2008 Hammer resurfaced with this unspeakable atrocity that defecates mightily on the Hammer name, the Hammer legacy and the Hammer audience. Not only is it only nominally a Hammer film, it's only nominally a horror film and, if you want to get technical, it's only nominally a film.

Perhaps stemming from the predictable (and incorrect) equation that Hammer = Vampires, Beyond The Rave is another vampire picture. On the eve of departing for Iraq, a young squaddie wants to get together with his girlfriend; she's going to be at an illegal rave and no-one knows where it's going to be held. But the rave is a cover for a blood-harvesting operation run by a group of vampires led by Melech, who's someone who looks distractingly like comedian Ed Byrne. In addition to our hero and a few of his Army mates, there's a trio of Cockney gangster types so morally and verbally repugnant they make Danny Dyer look like the Archbishop of Canterbury. In truth I'm not sure what they're doing in the film apart from dealing drugs. The vamps seal the building and gas everyone, but Melech has the hots for our hero's girlfriend (Nora-Jane Noone, from The Descent and Doomsday).

The cockneys are led by Tamer Hassan and he literally cannot utter a single sentence without flinging obscenities around. If he came to your place for dinner and he asked you for the salt it would be "Pass the ****ing salt, you ****." In fact every last person, human or undead, in the entire movie is such a repellent and reprehensible piece of garbage that five minutes in, I'd completely lost patience with any of the alleged drama and simply wanted the lot of them to die. Modern vampires aren't scary and they aren't interesting - and until someone rewrites vampire lore and takes them out of the soapy gothic romance arena altogether and characterises them as the foul and wretched "creatures of the night" they really should be, such as Nosferatu, they're never going to be scary. In an increasingly secular world with ever less concept of the soul, where's the spiritual downside to living forever and looking fabulous?

Beyond The Rave is absolutely atrocious. For a start: it actually isn't a film. It was made not for cinemas, not for home video and not even for TV - it was a string of twenty "webisodes" for MySpace, each lasting around four minutes. And the DVD presentation of Beyond The Rave does actually include the individual episode captions. So any kind of narrative structure and variation of pacing are sacrificed in favour of a regular cycle of three minutes of drama, one minute of blood - caption - three minutes of drama, one minute of blood - caption - etcetera. You could perhaps get away with four episodes of twenty minutes each but it doesn't work this way.

However, whatever the chosen structure, the writing needs to be a hell of a lot better, you need to give us characters we should give a damn about and it needs to be put together far, far better than this. Look at the actual Hammer films, even the ones which weren't very good. And look at the ones which tried to capture the so-called Youth Market by bringing Dracula into 1970s Swinging London. Hammer was never foul and obnoxious and deliberately out to offend, and if you want the cachet of the Hammer brand on your film you'd damn well better aspire to some kind of quality rather than this frankly unprofessional pandering to the lowest of brows. Whilst on a technical level it's not quite as amateurish as the utterly worthless The Summer Of The Massacre, that was just a bunch of idiots fooling around with a camcorder. This is ostensibly a proper piece of filmmaking that's supposedly reviving the Hammer traditions, but is actually nothing more a shameless and shameful attempt to cash in on its name and has absolutely nothing - not one single thing - to commend it to anyone.


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