January 8, 2013

Blu-ray Review: The Thompsons

Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, aka the Butcher Brothers, first appeared on the scene with The Hamiltons in 2006 when the movie was selected to be part of the After Dark Horror Fest. Now, I have not seen that film, but I have seen their follow up, The Violent Kind, a very strange genre bending film that needs to be seen to be believed. With that said, that movie was good enough to make this directing duo one to keep an eye on. They have returned with The Thompsons, a sequel to their debut.

I know that this is a sequel to The Hamiltons, which I have not seen, but fortunately I read that prior knowledge is not a requirement for this outing. This turned out to be accurate as The Thompsons takes some time to catch us up to speed with who these people are and how they came to be where they are at the outset of our tale.

As The Thompsons gets underway through a sequence of stutter starts (annoying method where the story begins only for them to say "Wait, let me start from the beginning" or "But that's not how I ended up here") we are introduced to Francis (Corey Knauf) and he is trapped in a box. It is from this boxed position that he begins to tell our tale via voice over, a tool visited frequently throughout the film. He tells of an incident where the family's secret, that they are day walking, bloodsucking vampires, is exposed leaving them on the run. He is in England looking for others of their kind, hoping for some sort of help for him and his siblings.

Now, here is where things get a little tricky in terms of plot description. While Francis is looking for other vampires for help, it seems there are some out there that are not exactly keen on giving it. Things go south and Francis and the family is headed into a trap.

The movie is nothing if not predictable. Sadly, it is also a little dull. I cannot say here was really anything of substance to really hang onto. I did like the idea of differences introduced between born vampires and made vampires, however, it was not explored all that well. The Butcher Brothers also introduce something of a bloodline based hierarchy among the vampires, with ruling clans and such, again, not explored all that well. There all a number of interesting elements brought up, but the movie never seems all that interested in exploring them or making them worthy of spending time with. What we are left with are a couple of angsty vampires fighting each other.

The Blu-ray case claims The Thompsons is "Twilight meets Tarantino." When I saw that, I began to question just how much I really wanted to see this. I gave Twilight a shot and it drove me up the wall with a hurry up and wait story and it s annoying characters, I did not want to subject myself to anything like that. Fortunately, this doesn't quite reach those levels of annoying. How they got the idea to bring Tarantino into the mix I will never know. This is nothing like a Tarantino movie.

While The Thompsons is not all that great a movie, there are a couple of things I liked. I liked the bar fight, it was nice and gruesome with a couple of solid gore effects. I liked the first scene in the film where a couple are accosted by a couple of nasty vamps. It is a gritty, humiliating bit and could have been a promising raw vampire movie. I also liked the idea of differences between born and made vampires. There really is a potentially excellent movie buried in there. Better luck next time.

Audio/Video. The movie is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1. The film was shot digitally using the Red camera. The resulting image is pretty good. It has solid levels of detail, but is generally a touch bland when it comes to color. Of course, the palette is dominated by greens and browns of the English countryside, but still looks bland rather than pretty. Overall, it is a nicely detailed high definition image hat suffers from limited colors.

Audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. It is clear track, but like the color palette, it is a little bland. It is not terribly atmospheric but it does allow the growling vampires to resonate nicely.


  • Relocating the Family. Interviews with cast and crew about making a sequel, moving it to England, insight into the characters, and the challenges of shooting in England.
  • Scribed on Blood. Interviews where they discuss the development of the script and the differences with other vampire tales.
  • Humans to Monsters. This takes a look at the make up and prosthetics and the fight choreography.
  • Awakening the Project. This looks at the development of the project, an overview of the production.
  • Families. This featurette looks at the two families in the film and the actors playing them, some of whom have made several films with the Butcher Brothers.
  • The Ringlestone Inn. Interviews with the owners of he inn where some of the film was shot, even telling of he ghosts who live there.
  • Trailer.

Bottomline. No, not a great movie. Not terrible, but disappointing when you come across the infrequent good bits and ideas. It is a movie that has a solid base but feels underwritten. The elements meant to show the scope of the universe only serve to show what could have been.

Not Recommended.

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: The Thompsons on Blogcritics.

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