The Caretakers (2014)
It is not uncommon experience to have to train your replacement if the many long years of faithful service. Occasionally, you also faced with a task that is much too difficult for your neophytes that demand your personal attention. If the situation was to be presented in a typical office with hardly make for an exciting film. However, upcoming independent filmmaker Steve Hudgins found a way to put it different slant on this very relatable theme by relocating the individual transferred out of the mundane environment in depicting him as a Renfield. Most devotees of horror readily recognize the term as the more that is charged with taking care of a vampire to be during the potentially fatal daylight hours. His most recent film aptly named, ‘The Caretakers’ considers precisely that situation. Mr. Hudgins has several films to his credit prior to this one on either the horror or thriller genres. Many of these films he also served as cinematographer, editor and producer with the couple also finding him &, makeup and special effects. This certainly goes beyond the usual description of the shoestring budget into it might be called dental floss, apparently mostly raised or kickstarter campaign. Many are quick to concentrate on what obviously the production quality is being on par with a film school project. While this is undeniably true remaining fixated on this while watching the movie we preclude the opportunity of being opened to some of the positive elements of the movie. For a filmmaker to be this intimately involved in such a wide gamut of the requisite elements of this art form has to be exceptionally difficult. I realize there is a lot of software out there that can turn virtually anyone into nascent auteur loading software onto your computer cannot imbue the user with a passion for the expressive potential of the media. One man to be willing to take on so many aspects on himself is worthy of respect it deserves regardless of the outcome. As you watch this movie please keep in mind what it took Mr. Hudgins to present this offering.
With a rather nondescript young man, Jimmy (Michael Coon), knocking on the door of an elderly woman. In short order manages to murder her and immediately takes out a microscope slide in some reagents small plastic bottles. Has the blood and is obviously extremely upset over the results. Just then his partner in this deed, Rachel (Brittney Saylor) enters and questions the veracity of his testing, angry that the results are not A-Positive she replies as she screams to be tied up vampire fangs obvious. Jimmy takes out some duct tape from his kit and obliges. As it turns out Rachel had been recently bitten by a vampire, Catherine (April Jennings) turned Rachel into a hybrid have vampire half human. Jimmy has been kept busy trying to help her find safe places to hide curing her next meal. Rachel had been kidnapped by a procurer, a ‘Meals on Wheels’ delivery service for the discerning vampire. Catherine is anxious to get the meal she paid for back which is complicated by Rachel’s father (Bill Johnson) desperate to find his missing daughter.
As is the case with most supernatural throws the screenwriter has to clearly establish the rules that define how things work in this story. Contrary to popular belief vampires are not made by being bitten by another vampire. Like Rachel they are turned into some sort of pseudo-vampire but to never reach complete status is one. Here vampires are born not made with the caste system with the elite pureblood on the top having been conceived by two vampires. The lower level is held by the half-bloods where one parent had been fully human. Catherine was a pure blood and dependent upon her caretaker, Jack (Nick Faust) who has been serving his vampire mistress many years and has come to the point of having to consider his successor. The fundamental impetus for this movie is created by the unauthorized peculiarities of how vampires function in this world. As a pureblood vampire Catherine cannot directly feed off of her victims to secrete the venom fangs which turn the victim, usually young women, into a hybrid vampire described above. The meal is now suitable for presentation.
Jimmy has been stalking Rachel and fortuitously watched as she was kidnapped in order to be Catherine’s dinner guests. With Rachel stuck in her semi vampire state Jimmy has been frantically trying to keep the fed. No longer fully up to the arduous task of retrieval, Jack turns to his new apprentices, Scott (Kenneth R. Root) and his daughter Jodi (Lucy Turner). Complicating matters Rachel’s father is hide pair of recovery experts Mason (Steve Hudgins) and his albino sidekick (Jessica Dockrey). Managing this pair of investigators is Parker (Joe Estevez). The closest thing to a known performer is Mr. Estevez appears to be trying to channel acting methodology of his older brother Martin Sheen.
The story is told from the vantage point of these four distinct units; the fledgling semi vampire and her stalker turn caretaker, the investigator and his melanin challenged sidekick, the vampire caretakers in training and, of course the vampire and her aging caretaker readying himself for retirement. Much of the story is dependent upon the interpersonal dynamic between each of these pairs. The most endearing happens to be between Catherine and Jack. Particularly when he is seeing an appropriately darkened room with Jack’s head cradled by Catherine on her chest. With the movement that conveys a sense of long-established familiarity, the vampire gently strokes the old man’s hair. The downside of the story is that the appears to be a little too much comic relief which in effect severely restricts the time to develop the actual core story.
It was a distinct lack of polish to the ability of the actors which does hinder the movie from reaching any portion of its potential. One of the most unintentionally humorous examples of this is towards the end when Rachel finally finds a person with a compatible blood type to feast upon. As she rips a victim’s apartment returns to gorge on the blood and viscera, she growls angrily at anyone who approaches, protecting her food source. The audience cannot help but to get the sense that the actresses channeling a scene from a canine thriller such as ‘Cujo’ rather than any familiar vampire movie. Mr. Hudgins is on and running curve and does require work on all aspects of his creative process. He has to come up with a way to elicit more natural performances from his cast, something that should be assisted when he is able to attract the services a more experienced actors. I felt that the actors in the cast did give an honest performance; the best they were capable of. Again there is potential beverage within what they were demonstrating here but it will take some concerted effort in skin thick enough to take some constructive criticism. Of all the elements Mr. Hudgins did best on of the film with regards to a fundamental story. The concept of a caretaker has been part of vampire lore ages in such a role always has been featured in vampire movies all the way back to the 1939 Universal Studios classic, Dracula. This movie will appeal to diehard fans of independent film. At long last we have an indie filmmaker endeavoring to make a horror film without all the gratuitous nudity, gallons of fake blood and pounds of butcher shop castoffs. He set out to make a movie that depended upon the characters as he created them. Admittedly far from perfect but at least he attempted to bring some character development to the story. For anyone who was quick to denounce this effort just her back to the first time you had to do something in your career. I am reasonably sure that would look at those attempts is quite amateurish.