Wednesday 17 March 2021

Nest of Vampires (UK 2021: Dir Chris Sanders) NEW WAVE OF THE BRITISH FANTASTIC FILM 2021

Independent film making, huh? It's a tricky business. You don't have much cash to spare (in this case about £30,000) and it's your first feature. But your vision is ambitious: a vampire thriller with an international cast. So what do you do?

Location is easy; base it where you live. In this case Hinckley in Leicestershire. Secondly, find your cast. Calling in favours and offering an exciting project (plus a shout out in the Leicester Mercury) allows you to draw in talent from Germany, Poland, the Ukraine, Egypt, the USA and Brazil; and Frank Jakeman, who once starred opposite Ernest Borgnine and was in Game of Thrones!

Storywise, if the size of the budget isn't on your side, you can either make a movie with a bunch of actors just sitting around talking, or you can do something more interesting and risky. So introducing Kit Valentine (Tom Fairfoot), M15 intelligence officer and "I'll do it my way" tough nut, whose passion for hunting down criminal gangs has seen the death of his wife and abduction of his daughter Anna (Daria Krauzo). Still grieving, Valentine gets the opportunity to chase down the people responsible and, hopefully, get his daughter back.

So it's to Hinckley he travels; it's a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else. On the positive side, that means it should be reasonably easy to get to the gang's 'Mr Big', Samuel Archer (Hans Hernke). But Valentine doesn't reckon on the sheer number of people standing in the way of the prize, and loses perspective on who he can trust. Archer runs a human trafficking business where a succession of girls are procured for clients living on the dark side, and it looks like his daughter might be used as trade.

But the gang have another side to them; a sharp toothed, garlic fearing side, although they've found a way round the pesky daylight hours thing courtesy of the properties of Lapis Lazuli, a deep blue gemstone which we are told "allows vampires to walk openly in sunlight". Things are looking tricky for Kit and his daughter, but fear not; they have a mystical ace up their sleeve too.

Sanders' vision may eventually outstrip the limitations of his resources, and you get the sense that the script has been pared down for reasons of economy and run time (there are a few huh? moments along the way) but Nest of Vampires is never boring. Fairfoot plays his role like a cross between James Bond and James Hazell (1970s downbeat UK TV gumshoe), his antagonists are secret agent villains without the hardware, and the women mostly do old school smouldering or uptight dominatrix stuff. There's some mild gore, refreshingly delivered sans CGI (or I couldn't see any) and a rich score by Christopher Belsey adds some extra class to the proceedings.

I'm fairly sure that Sanders isn't intending this to be taken totally seriously (a mistake made by at least one mainstream journalist recently) and I'd be lying if I wrote that Nest of Vampires marked a sea change in the British horror film. But it's very far from awful and it's great to see independent UK talent turning out watchable genre movies, especially in the present circumstances. Readers of DEoL will know that I'm passionate about this type of thing. This isn't mainstream cinema - goodness knows we get enough of that - and it requires the viewer to watch free of the expectations brought to bigger budget comparators. Well done Chris and everybody involved. 

You can watch Nest of Vampires online now at 

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