Editor’s Note: Bloodsucking Bastards opens in limited release today, September 4, 2015.
The life of a corporate cubicle drone is hell. In Bloodsucking Bastards, this Hell is a vague and timeless eternal torment, one with magnificent moustaches from the 1970s, adorable 1950s sweater sets with Peter Pan collars, technology from the 1990s, and wood paneling from what surely must be Satan’s own “Bourgeois Banality” line of office décor.
For Evan (Fran Kranz), the acting sales manager for a beige-drenched company whose sales are slipping, it’s at least a Hell of his own choosing. He hopes to be promoted and enjoys a relationship with Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick), the beautiful head of Human Resources. Unfortunately for the perpetually befuddled Evan, he loses both in short order, his promotion going to his long-time nemesis Max (Pedro Pascal), and Amanda leaving him after his unfortunate, but hilarious, reaction to her declaration of love.
From the minds of Los Angeles-based comedy troupe Dr. God, Bloodsucking Bastards works best when it lingers on the office friendships between the irreverent, slacker employees.
The next day, things get worse: Evan is sent back to the cubicles, his work on an important presentation is falling apart, and Ted (Joel Murray) is lying dead in the men’s bathroom with his jugular ripped out. When the body goes missing, everyone shrugs off Evan’s story as a prank — none of them seem to have noticed the poor intern (Parvesh Cheena) has gone missing as well — but Evan knows something’s wrong. Employees are being brutally murdered, he thinks, or maybe being turned into vampires, or both; it’s hard to tell, especially because he hasn’t been paying much attention to his fellow coworkers all these years.
. . .the film never seems to grasp that, as employees disappear, the dynamic changes, and not always for the better.
Though Bloodsucking Bastards could never be accused of originality — it is, as many others have noted before, Office Space with vampires — it is both fun and funny. From the minds of Los Angeles-based comedy troupe Dr. God, Bloodsucking Bastards works best when it lingers on the office friendships between the irreverent, slacker employees. Tim (Joey Kern) and Andrew (Justin Ware) are especially good as guys just trying to get through the day without chewing their own feet off. This camaraderie between supporting characters comes at a bit of a price, however, as the film never seems to grasp that, as employees disappear, the dynamic changes, and not always for the better.
Pedro Pascal is fantastic in the role of the sleazy bureaucrat in the tailored power suit, but doesn’t really pass as Evan’s and Tim’s contemporary as he is supposed to. Instead, he looks very much like a man who has worked hard in the corporate jungle for the better part of 20 years, and he has, which of course raises the obvious question: what have Evan and Tim been doing all this time.
It’s not as though Bloodsucking Bastards doesn’t address this, because we know full well that Tim has been playing video games, going to concerts and enjoying delicious sandwiches instead of committing to a career. But Evan has dreams and goals and gumption, and it’s never really clear what his motivation is or why he wants to stay in the job, which clearly he does, since he’s gunning for promotion.
The only good part of Dracula: Dead and Loving It was the copious amount of Karo and FD&C Red 40 that came gushing out of a vampire that had been staked in the heart, a conceit Bloodsucking Bastards takes to new, and funnier, levels. But as the film hits its blood-soaked stride, it starts to hit the corporation-as-soulless-entity notes a little too hard. During the hilarious and gory finale, parallels between work and unspeakable cinematic horror are nicely choreographed, then ruined by some unnecessary and obvious dialogue, usually given to Evan, spelling it all out for us as though the film forgot it was dealing with a basic, universal truth: work sucks, sometimes literally.
Though Bloodsucking Bastards lacks originality, its humor and charm more than make up for is well-trod subject matter.