Friday, 12 September 2014

Fangs (2002)



I had pretty low expectations of this movie going in, and to be honest in a lot of ways the film loves down to those expectations.  It's cheesy nonsense and about the only way it could telegraph its plot points more obviously would be to hire Western Union to send you literal telegrams of them.

In a small college town in the rural US, a pair of vapid female students doing some work for one of their professors.  Specifically, they're feeding his bats, a bizarrely convoluted process involving special (inaudible to the human ear) sounds.  In the process, one of the girls is bitten.  She threatens to tell the school board, and the professor offers the pair automatic As in his class if they keep quiet.

Then that night, said professor gets eaten by his bats.

On the murder case are Detective Ally Parks - a transfer from the mean streets of LA - and veterinarian John Winslow, who is called in as the local 'animal control' representative.  Parks is not pleased to have some civilian messing up her crime scene, and the two have a snarkfest at each other.  They're totally gonna make out later, of course.

Anyway, the town's being bought up by sleazy property developer Carl Hart (Corbin Bernsen, who is a man born to play sleazy property developers), who wants the death kept quiet since any controversy might hurt his sales pitch to wealth out of towners.  There are no prizes for guessing that the Police Chief is in Hart's pocket, and is soon telling Parks to write off the professor's death as 'natural causes'.

Of course, the bat attacks continue, and we as the audience are pretty quickly clued in to the fact they aren't random.  In fact, Carl Hart may well be the common factor that links them all together.

Will killer bats spoil the town's annual Apple Blossom Festival?  Will Carl Hart get his just desserts?  Will Winslow's 'girl reporter' daughter and her brain dead boyfriend continually get themselves in danger?  Will the killer's identity be blindingly obvious?  The answer, of course, is yes.

And yet despite all that, I had fun with this film.  The actors in the main roles all seem to be having fun, and pitch their performances well.  This is a comedy horror with the emphasis very much on the comedy.  There's basically no onscreen violence and very little gore.  Apparently this causes a lot of horror fans to dislike it.  I can see why that would be: if you came for chocolate cake and get vanilla slice, you're bound to be disappointed.

Also note that it's not a spoof.  The 'horror' elements, such as they are, are played pretty much straight.  There's no riffing on horror tropes, or nods to famous horror franchises.  It's more or less a situation comedy where the situation just happens to be "Someone's using killer bats to commit murders".

Which frankly seems like a premise with a pretty small target audience, but apparently I'm in it.

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