DVD REVIEW: THE CARETAKER

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02.10.2013

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MSRP $19.95

RATED Not Rated

STUDIO Seminal Films

RUNNING TIME 96 Minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES

• Producer/Director Commentary Track

• Theatrical Trailer

• Teaser Trailer

• Lester Rap

• Making of Documentary

The Pitch

A vampire makes a deal with the most horrible monsters of all. . . Australians.

The Humans

Anna Katie Burgess, Clint Dowdell, Colin MacPherson, Lee Mason, and Mark White

The Nutshell

As a wave of vampirism sweeps across the world, a small but discordant group hole up in a rural house. There, they discover a vampire has also taken refuge. He offers them a deal: if they protect him during the day, he’ll protect them from other vampires at night. So begins an uneasy alliance which soon threatens to tear them apart.

The Lowdown

The Caretaker is the newest entry in the “Vampire Apocalypse” sub-genre. It’s a rather small sub-genre populated (in movies at least) only by Daybreakers, Stakeland, and the various I Am Legend adaptations. Most of the time we get “zompires” (as in Stakeland and The Last Man on Earth) or things which aren’t even really vampires at all (as in The Omega Man and I Am Legend) due to the fact that smart vampires would just trounce humanity with all the effort of someone crushing an ant (as in Daybreakers.)

The Caretaker bravely makes its vampires smart and doesn’t dwell on silly little rules like not being able to cross moving water or having to be invited into a dwelling. The only rules there appear to be for these vampires is that they’re stupid strong, can glide or fly limited distances, are harmed by sunlight, and can be killed either through beheading or a wooden stake to the heart. So of course this makes the question of how one can survive a bit of a challenge.

“I call this pose “The Tired Babboon”

That problem is of course how our story comes together. We have four humans (more about them in a moment) in a dwelling with a vampire who has made this house his home. He was a doctor (let us call him Dr. Vin Diesel) who showed up before everything went to shit, killed the ruling vampire of the house, and made a deal with the current residents. “You protect me from your kind during the day, and I’ll protect you from my kind at night.” Simple right? Not really. This symbiotic relationship soon turns parasitic, but not in the way you’re thinking.

Our humans are four of the biggest wastes of space this Earth could possibly vomit into existence. We have Ron, a “good ole boy” type (or whatever that’s called in Australia) who insists they’re all soldiers fighting in a war (one he fights by never actually fighting); Lester, a creepy bachelor that’s two or three interesting character traits from being Norman Bates; Annie, a woman with the personality of a badger with a live shrew up its ass and Guy, a man who may in fact just be a semi-sentient piece of wood.

Ron threatens to go grab a step-ladder so he can punch Guy in the face.

The conflict in this movie is entirely invented by our four humans. Lester wants very badly to be inside of Annie and gets very upset when she friend-zones him and sticks with her husband (it might have to do with the fact that his ex is a Real Doll), Ron wants to offer Annie to their pet vampire even though Dr. Vin Diesel has never once made any sort of demand or even implied he was interested in feeding on any of them, Guy wants to lay face down on the ground and do nothing until moss grows on the north side of him, and Annie wants to complain and yell at people (and later cry and mope about all the yelling and complaining she did earlier) because she is a vile and horrible person.

And really the most amusing part about all this conflict is that they have a ridiculously cherry deal. They have a pet vampire who protects them at night and doesn’t ever try to eat them or manipulate them, a nice house in an isolated part of the countryside to live in, and plenty of food. The movie makes a big point about how they have a small dwindling food supply of only a few of Lester’s canned goods even though we glimpse a herd of cattle in a field that is right next to Lester’s house several times.

Even in the four characters there’s never a palpable sense of danger. Sure, Lester’s creepy but he just acts like a stupid jerk instead of doing anything mildly threatening, Ron mentions feeding Annie to Dr. Diesel but he never brings it up again and he’s all of 3 feet tall so he doesn’t really come across as a danger, and Guy and Annie are the least intimidating things in the world. There’s a bit of a tension when one of the characters becomes a vampire, but even that burst of action and excitement (the best and most interesting part of the movie) doesn’t actually come to a head until about 10 minutes before the end credits.

“Oh Lester you make me laugh, I love you like a brother!”

Dr. Vin Diesel is by far the most likeable and compelling character in the movie, but he doesn’t do much once he’s fully vamped. This is further complicated by the fact that Dr. Vamp Diesel can seemingly only communicate in intimidating stares and wanky existential poetry. The movie just can’t seem to figure out what to do with him, he’s just such a nice guy that they have the horrible humans betray him because they’re dicks.

And the doctor’s decency is another issue with the writing of this movie. This whole thing goes to shit in one night: all the people with this “mystery flu” turn at dusk and then they just wreck shit up all over the world. Yet the next morning, the doctor is cognitive enough to make deals and not eat his house guests, and Lester was in the same house with him all night without being harmed. I could accept him as an anomaly if not for the fact that the other character who becomes a vampire also effortlessly manages to not be a monster. Why are all these other vampires mindless animals?

And furthermore, how does vampirism even work in this movie? The only cause of vampirism shown is from mosquito bites, implying it’s some sort of blood-born pathogen, yet people bit by vampires are never shown to turn. Apparently having sexual intercourse with a vampire is also not a risk.

“Hey, check out these awesome plastic vampire teeth I found down here!”

I’m nit-picking of course but that’s mostly because I had plenty of time to reflect on other things as I watched nothing much happen for 96 minutes. There’s a lot of interesting ideas present here that just never add up to much more than the sum of their parts. After everything sets up, the characters just kind of bitch and moan at each other, almost do something, then don’t, and then there’s a minute-long vampire fight and its pretty much over.

The whole thing feels a couple of drafts away from a good movie. The acting is competent, the camera work is good, and the movie is never bad. The Caretaker is just a great big damp squib of a movie that promises great things only to just kind of fizzle and spark for a few minutes before going out.

Doctor Vin Diesel prepares to bring the pain.

The Package

The video and sound here are great, everyone speaks clearly and can easily be heard, the lighting is always good enough so the audience can see what’s going on. The video transfer here is no-frills but looks good.

Unfortunately the music is ridiculously over-the-top ranging from melodramatic pianos to screeching violins that think they’re scoring a documentary on spiders. It’s distracting and casts an opaque brown sheen of boredom on a movie that’s not terribly exciting to begin with.

There’s not much for special features here. A couple trailers, a commentary by the director and producer, and a “rap” video where we watch Colin MacPherson (Lester) dance around like an idiot. It is, admittedly, probably the most entertaining feature on the whole disc.

If you’re an apocalypse or vampire junkie, as I am, you might want to give this a spin. Just don’t expect much from The Caretaker and you’ll leave mostly semi-satisfied. If you’re not overly fond of vampires or post-apocalyptic movies then feel free to skip over this one.

Rating:
★★☆☆☆

Out of a Possible 5 Stars



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