I’m going to quote Shout Factory’s description of this film, as it’s better and more concise than any description I could come up with for it. The following is quoted from their materials…
When respected but small-time gangster Freddie "Dead Cert" Frankham (Craig Fairbrass) is unexpectedly given the chance to make a tentative leap into the big leagues with the opening of his new nightclub in London’s East End, he doesn’t quite realize what he’s getting into. Unknown to Freddie and his partners, the club stands on the former site of a Black Church, established as a temple of evil in the 17th Century by a Romanian warlord-turned-vampire known as The Wolf. Flushed out of the city by emissaries of the Vatican during the Great Fire of London, and since then exiled to mainland Europe, The Wolf and his undead disciples have now returned to England to continue their diabolical plans to expand their legions and overcome mankind.
On the club’s opening night, Freddie is approached by an uninvited guest in the form of Dante Livienko (Billy Murray), an Eastern European businessman, gangster and drug dealer with a fearsome reputation. Livienko and his associates want ownership of the club and are prepared to make Freddie an offer he can’t refuse in order to get what they want. But to Freddie, his new, legitimate business means far more to him than money and he’s not about to give up his hard-earned turf without a fight. What he doesn’t know, but is soon to find out, is the man he is about to cross is a 500 year old vampire determined to rebuild his empire of evil on it’s original, unhallowed site.
Now, I usually write my own descriptions of the films in my reviews, with the occasional exception, and this is one of them. There’s a reason for it, I’ll get to in a moment. Let’s talk about the movie first.
Vampire movies are a dime a dozen these days, so it takes a little something extra to make one stand out from the rest. While this film brings very little to the party that’s new, it does bring one thing that actually makes it quite good, that being, characters you can actually care about. You have Freddie, who’s passionate about his nightclub and making a good life for him and his wife, who’s been trying to get pregnant. His gang of friends is full of people who understand the meaning of friendship and family. They stick with him no matter what. These are the kinds of characters you can pull for, and make a movie worth watching. I’ve seen more than my share of vampire, and for that matter, other genres of movies that are full of throwaway characters that you care nothing about, and it really ruins a film when it comes up lacking on that front. Fortunately, this one didn’t.
Something else that impressed me about this film was the quality of the production. Everything from the visuals to the set design was very well thought out. They really made the best of their budget, and they obviously had a stellar crew who made that happen. The camera work was also exceptional. The shots were very well set up and thought out, and the lighting really accentuated each scene.
This film did have one unfortunate flaw however – the accents. The gangsters mostly had Cockney accents, and while I’m totally fine with accents in general, the accents in this movie were really hard to understand. I picked up enough of what was being said to know what was going on, but it got distracting having to focus so much on trying to pick up on the dialog rather than being able to focus on the film in general. As the film progresses, this becomes less and less of an issue, as your ears begin to adjust to the accents and your brain starts to process it better, but until that happens, it can get a little frustrating. Combine that with the fact that the dialog can be quiet at times, and it creates a situation where you’re straining to pick up on things.
That brings me to the one major flaw with this release. It REALLY needed subtitles. I’ve dinged Shout Factory and many other companies in my reviews for ages for not adding English subtitles to their films. Having a wife that’s a little hard of hearing, I came to appreciate the value of subtitles, as I soon realized how much I was missing in movies from not being able to hear subtle bits of dialog that are revealed with the subtitles on. With a movie like this one that has accents that are hard for people outside of the UK to understand, the subtitles become particularly important. I know subtitling can be a time consuming process, but it’s also one that can really help the viewer get the most out of a film.
While this isn’t the most original vampire film out there, the characters really make it one of the better ones. If you see this one though, you’ll want to watch it twice. By the end of the first time, you’ll totally understand the story. The second time, you’ll pick up on things a lot more easily with the dialog.
The movie is available on DVD and blu-ray and includes an audio commentary, a making of featurette and the theatrical trailer. If you’d like to find out more about this release, or pick up a copy for yourself (available 9/27/2011), you can visit its product pages on the Shout Factory website.