Part of the fun of “Blood Relatives” is how Segan plays around with established vampire mythology. Yes, vampires are the undead; yes, they drink blood (of people and sometimes animals, but animals don’t taste as good); and yes, they can be killed by sunlight. But Francis also liked to drink bottles of wine – which Count Dracula, with his aversion to spirits, would devour. And, even though he’s technically dead, Francis was able to give birth too. Years ago, he rolled into a town and got pregnant one night. Now, that woman is dead, and Jane, her daughter, has come to reveal to Francis that she is his long-lost child. And because her dad is a vampire, she’s half-vampire herself. She is bloodthirsty, has superhuman strength and can grow fangs. But she’s technically alive, naturally aging, and can move through the day without burning out.
Since Jane has no one, she wants to stay with Francis. Francis, as you might imagine, thinks this is a terrible idea. But father and daughter are reluctant to hit the road together, and it won’t be an easy journey. Jane often gets angry in that sulky teenage fashion, and that’s part of the movie’s problem. While Villalobos sells her character’s anger, she’s stuck with the kind of humorous, sarcastic dialogue a child can never hear right when it comes out of a child’s mouth. Kids don’t talk like this – screenwriters do. And so, I had trouble getting to know Jane as a character. You could argue that her nature is an act; she’s a hurt, lonely kid and she’s lashing out and trying to be wiser after her years. But I don’t buy that outright, and I don’t buy her lines.
But I was able to buy up the conflicts that arise between father and daughter, two characters who are both similar and very different. And I bought into the way these two lonely people finally realized that they needed each other, because each other was all they had. There’s something captivating about the way Francis learns to change to raise his daughter. Despite being an old man, he is still forced to grow up in the end, something that is not easy for anyone – even a vampire. However, there are dark, unspoken things lurking in the background – the idea that in the end, Jane will grow older while Francis stays the same. It’s bleak and unsettling – I’ve been reminded of “Let the Right One In”, the similarly motivated movie about tragic vampires/humans – but “Blood Relatives” play them to cause havoc. laugh. But maybe that’s just the reality of the situation – we always find humor in the macabre. We must laugh, or we will cry. “Blood Relatives” has that, and that’s part of what makes the movie so endearing, even if it occasionally makes its way through its own Dracula cape.
/ Movie rating: 6 out of 10
https://www.slashfilm.com/1023652/blood-relatives-review-a-sweet-slightly-clumsy-vampire-dramedy-fantastic-fest/ A sweet, slightly clumsy vampire Dramedy [Fantastic Fest]