The Thompsons (2012)

The Thompsons is the direct sequel to The Hamiltons (2006), so if you haven’t seen The Hamiltons then this review will be spoilerific. But is it worth watching in the first place?

The Hamiltons is a strange little indie flick that perhaps thinks it’s a lot more intelligent than it really is. It’s certainly entertaining, weird, bloody and deranged, but in essence it’s just another vampire flick. And yes, that is a spoiler. And so is the next paragraph.

After The Hamiltons ends happily/unhappily (depending on your point of view) with the Hamilton family getting away with murder and our troubled protagonist killing his innocence stone dead, they rename themselves The Thompsons and skedaddle out of town.

Unfortunately hell follows them closely, and after a robbery-gone-wrong they have to flee the entire continent after eviscerating a diner full of people.

So Francis Hamilton / Thompson (Corey Knauf) finds himself in Britain, searching for the elusive Stuart family, who are an ancient vampire clan who might hold the key to keeping ‘low profile’ in a world of humans. Living in a sleepy Kentish village, the Stuarts have assimilated well and Francis is desperate to find out how…

Encouraged to bring his family to meet the Stuarts, Francis quickly realizes there may be an ulterior motive in their outward hospitality…

With a film like The Thompsons it’s essential that you sympathize / empathize / remotely like the inhuman psychopathic vampire protagonists, because if you find them dislikeable and perverse you will struggle to care.

Director / writers The Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores, not actual brothers) do a decent job of trying to inject sympathy and reason into these orphaned killing-machines, but it is a difficult, morally awkward film. The lack of human protagonist – even one turned into a vampire à la We Are The Night – makes it difficult to relate to.

You do feel sympathy for them in one sense; these vampire are born into existence, not turned, and without their parents to guide them they are seriously lost and alone. This definitely garners sympathy, but their unfortunate and uncontrollable bloodlust makes them morally ambiguous…

The Butcher Brothers have had a hit ‘n’ miss time in the horror genre, having helmed the April Fool’s Day remake, The Hamiltons, The Violent Kind and The Thompsons over the last decade, with varying results that have split audiences.

With three films being made over the next year or two, The Butcher Brothers are here to stay, and hopefully they’ll strike gold in the future. For now their work is decent but occasionally flawed, with an accepting audience that is always left wanting more. Luckily with The Thompsons they have a solid, returning cast and no one – including the newcomers – ruins the film through poor acting.

The Aggression Scale’s Ryan Hartwig is criminally underused in The Thompsons, spending most of the film lying in a bed. Instead the focus swings to the amoral fuck-buddy twins, the dull fatherly one and The Hamilton‘s protagonist Cory Knauf (who co-writes this time).

Whilst Knauf holds the film well, The Thompsons suffers from the lack of wild innocence that permeated the first film. Instead it’s more about ‘finding your place in the world’, which is a strange concept for such ostracized and vicious creatures. Luckily the pace is solid and the plot intriguing, with some decent characters and twisted moralities on display.

It’s a bold move relocating from America to the English countryside too and it keeps it fresh, setting wise anyway. If The Butcher Brothers make a third – and it’s been promised – they need to do something vastly bolder than simply move locations and have a vampire-on-vampire conflict. What, I don’t know, but following this disparate family of bloodsuckers further requires a drastic change and maybe – somehow – a little more ‘goodness’.

Overall The Thompsons is a perfectly serviceable sequel to The Hamiltons, with some gory moments and solid performances throughout. Enjoyable but unfortunately quite forgettable, hopefully the third in the series (called The Haverhills?) will be more inventive.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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