Review: Ninjas Vs Vampires (15) / Directed by: Justin Timpane / Screenplay by: Justine Timpane / Starring: Daniel Ross, Jay Saunders, Cory Okouchi, Devon Marie Burt, Carla Okouchi
Ninjas Vs Vampires doesn’t suffer from pretensions of grandeur. This is no high-brow thinking man’s vampire flick, that’s for certain. We’re not talking Let the Right One In or even The Lost Boys for that matter. Think John Carpenter’s Vampires with a heavily slashed budget and work down from there.
The plot follows Aaron – Jay Saunders - who while out on a date is caught in the middle of a supernatural face-off between ninjas and vampires. Waking up the next morning to discover his memories mysteriously wiped, Aaron sets about searching for the truth of that night’s events. Tracking the ninjas to their not-so-secret base, Aaron is drawn into a world of magic and monsters with disastrous and hilarious – but perhaps not in the sense the director intended - consequences.
Yes, it’s a B movie skirting the dangerous territory of fan fiction. Yes, the acting is so wooden you could replace half the actors with cardboard cut-outs and nobody would notice, much less care. Yes, the plot – what there is of it – is a tedious and meandering affair.
But somehow none of that seems to matter.
Ninjas Vs Vampires is a bit of senseless fun. While it’s fair to say this is one and half hours of your life you won’t ever get back, there are moments of humour that carry the film to its bland and predictable ending.
Daniel Ross’s performances borders on mediocre – as opposed to dire - but when set against the dismal vampiric portrayal ends up looking quite good. A splattering of comically timed pop culture references feels like a drinking game waiting to happen, and a few fight scenes manage to come across as a poor man’s Blade mixed bizarrely with Kevin Smith type dialogue.
The biggest problem – and there are many - is the uninspired use of the source material, namely the vampires. Despite the film’s need to distance itself from flicks such as Twilight, director and writer Justin Timpane still manages to portray vampires as upper class snobs or degenerate, heavily-clichéd monsters. Many low-budget films have made cult status by playing to what few strengths they had. Colin, for example, was filmed for $70 and achieved notable success at that year’s Cannes. But Ninjas Vs Vampires doesn’t bother with all that pathos, touchy-touchy feely stuff, and instead aims straight for the jugular with effects that would have Christopher Lee shaking his plastic fangs in bitter disappointment.
Ninjas Vs Vampires is an improvement on its predecessor, Ninjas Vs Zombies. It’s good for a laugh, but is instantly forgettable. Which is a shame. If director Justin Timpane put just a little more foresight and planning into his set production, writing, and casting, he may have achieved a notable success. As it stands Ninjas Vs Vampires fails to make an impression . . . well, the right one at least.
Ninjas Vs Vampires is out now on DVD