The V Word (2006)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
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Overall Rating 51%
Overall Rating
Ranked #6,196
...out of 14,074 movies
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Two curious teenage boys break into an old mortuary looking for thrills, only to find themselves stalked by a former teacher who is a very real vampire looking to increase the ranks of the undead. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: July 02, 2009
I can't be the only one who saw Ernest R. Dickerson's name listed among the Masters of Horror contributors and rolled my eyes. It's nothing against the man personally, because I have to admit that I enjoyed both of his contributions to the horror genre: Demon Knight was downright great and Bones, while an average film, was much better than a horror flick starring Snoop Dogg should have been. Still, labeling the man a "master" and ranking him alongside Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and all of the other legitimate masters found in this season? It just didn't make a whole lot of sense. Needless to say, I put this one off for as long as I could, but in attempting to finish up the season, I had to eventually get around to popping it in my player. The results were mixed.

The storyline finds two friends - Kerry (Arjay Smith) and Justin (Branden Nadon) - who are sitting around playing video games when Justin decides to do something a little different on this fateful night. His cousin works at a funeral home, he explains to Kerry, and wouldn't it be awesome to head on over there and see a dead body up close and in the flesh? We wouldn't have much of a movie if they laughed this idea off and went back to their gaming, so it's off to the house of the dead for our two heroes.

Upon their arrival, they immediately notice two things: one, Justin's cousin is not there, and in fact, it seems as though no living person is there. Two, this place is creepy as all hell - Kerry puts it best when he says that "all we need is a black cat and something that creaks." Still, these two lovable scamps came to see a dead body, and damn it, they aren't leaving until they've seen one. After snooping around the place for a bit, they start to notice some rather odd things: there's some creepy music playing upstairs, and it seems as though there's spots of blood on the floors and walls. Kerry believes that Justin is attempting to scare him while Justin believes that his cousin is screwing with both of them, but they'll soon discover that there is a vampire (Michael Ironside) in this funeral home who is craving fresh blood. Guess whose blood he wants?

I'm going to be repeating myself a bit in this review, because this film suffered from the exact same problem that plagued the last entry that I watched (The Screwfly Solution): the first "act" was highly enjoyable, while the second was almost the polar opposite. The first part of the film takes place in that funeral home and centers around what these two lads find inside, and yes, this chunk of the film was infinitely better than what I initially expected from Dickerson. The man makes this funeral home downright creepy thanks to a great setting, some excellent camera shots, and perfect use of lighting, and honestly, I believe that these thirty minutes featured the best representation of "horror" in the entire series. That was an impressive feat considering who he was up against, but I'll be damned if that wasn't how it turned out. Much like the aforementioned Screwfly Solution, I would have had nothing but praise for the film had it ended at the thirty minute mark.

However, something happens inside that funeral home, and we find ourselves watching the two leading men interact in a new setting with a new set of problems. This, in my ever so humble opinion, is where the film falls apart. Gone is that creepy funeral home that I loved so much, and in its place is a story that borders on drama with but the faintest of horror elements. Gone is the interaction between two believable actors who played the best set of buddies that one could ask for, and in its place is... well, it's hard to talk about this part without treading deep into spoiler country, but let's just say that they were both great as buddies, they both did a fine job of selling their fear, but there are some things that some actors simply can't pull off.

Ironically, I believe that this film's biggest issue was the opposite of one of my major gripes about Screwfly Solution. I thought that the story found in Screwfly was just too deep for an hour-long film, and it could have worked brilliantly had they used it in a two-hour film or maybe even a miniseries where it would have had the proper amount of time to unfold. On the other side of the coin, The V Word seemed to stem from a great idea, but it just didn't feel like they had enough material to put together an hour-long mini-movie. That second act felt tacked on and out of place for the sake of padding, and had they simply rolled the credits after the first act, I would have been a lot happier with the final product.

I'm still not sold on the idea of Dickerson being labeled as a "master of horror", but in the end, The V Word exceeded my expectations. That first half of the film proved that the man knows a thing or two about creating a horror film that is actually scary, but it's a shame that the second half couldn't live up to those high standards. As a thirty-minute Tales from the Crypt episode, this would have been a classic, but as an hour-long Masters of Horror entry, it was just somewhere in the middle. 6/10.
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