Overlooked vampire movie for Halloween: Moonshine

As those of you who’ve been following my soap opera know, I recently found a new job after being laid off from the video store I co-managed for three years. The job is temporary, or at least tentative, but it’s a pretty cool one: I get to watch movies and blurb and blog about them. It’s a created position; the CEO of the company (IndieFlix, for disclosure) hired me because she said she no longer had any idea what movies to rent without me at the store to vet them for her. So she’s trying me out in a position where my job will be to develop a kind of real-person recommendation system for the site. I’ll be putting together packages of films for subscribers to the site, linking one film to another if I think they’d have an overlapping audience, etc. Also I’m blogging for them. Not just about their movies; in fact I haven’t blogged about their movies yet, just about movie-related things that interest me. (If you check it out, I blog under my first name, Charley.)

Anyway, since I spend a lot of time here at the Dope talking about movies, I didn’t want to suddenly be able to talk about any movies EXCEPT movies distributed by the company I’m working for, so I discussed it with the mods and we agreed that full disclosure is best, so I’ll always try to be clear when I’m talking about a movie put out by IndieFlix. And I’ve finally watched enough movies to find one that’s worth starting a thread about. There have been a couple other good ones I may bring up at some point, but I’ve found the first one I’m tempted to call great: a little vampire flick called Moonshine. Here’s the quick blurb I wrote for it:

*Moonshine *is a fresh bite out of the vampire ethos, equal parts mystery and myth. Roger Ingraham, the youngest feature director ever officially selected for Sundance, has hand-crafted a minor masterpiece of atmosphere and small town dread. *Moonshine *celebrates the vampire as life-affirming force, a way out of a dead end job. Plus blood and car crashes!

It really is a great little movie. It’s about this kid (Roger was 19 when he wrote and directed it) named Peter, stuck in a situation that’s draining the life out of him. Family life, work life, love life–all his lives–soul deadeningly moribund. Meanwhile there’s weird things going on around town, involving mysterious and bloody deaths. His dog even turns up mauled by some kind of animal. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s a totally fresh take on being “turned” by a vampire.

Plus the director has an incredible visual sense. He’d just seen *Dancer in the Dark *when he was writing Moonshine, and that movie’s sense of an innocent soul in a vaguely threatening small town setting (another influence, believe it or not, was Harvey) is very clearly present in Moonshine, as well as the grainy low-res videography which lends the film a eerie texture. I interviewed Roger for the blog the other day and he said that the strongest thing he took from *DitD *was “the silence of the story.” And this is, for me, one of the strongest aspects of Moonshine: he never explains what’s going on. He completely trusts the audience to think for themselves: when Peter is mystified by something, so are we. When light dawns for Peter, it dawns for us. And even though the film has a distinct indie, DIY feel to it, the performances are all very, very strong. Well, except the guy who plays Peter’s dad; he’s kinda community theater. But it’s a small part.

Between Ingraham’s subtle strengths as a storyteller, and his phenomenal visual sense, this is the best indie horror film I’ve seen since Mulberry St. (Although I haven’t seen Paranormal Activity yet.)

Has anyone else seen this movie? As far as I know, it’s currently only available through the IndieFlix.com website (30-day streaming is five bucks; amounts to a rental), but it did play the festival circuit. I’d love to hear others’ takes on this movie. I’m a little worried that it seems great only after sifting through so much crap, but so far everyone I’ve lent my screener to has been enthusiastic.

It sounds interesting. I might check it out sometime when I get some money.

Yeah. Sorry if it sounds like I’m selling it; no way around that I guess. But it’s just meant in the sense of “You’ve got to rent this movie!” If I could give everyone a free copy I would.

Went to the indieflix site, and saw the trailers, have you watched Bit Players yet? The trailer was interesting and I never heard of the movie before. [I dont watch a lot of network TV or hollywood gossip programs so I tend to miss out on a lot of trailers]

Definitely not overlooked, but some of you might not be aware of Jim Carrey’s stint as a vampire:

ETA: Not really on topic.

Loved it, it was actually on this past week =)

I also like My Best Friend is a Vampire, Love at First Bite and Dracula, Dead and Loving It

I love that movie. It is the reason I can no longer pronounce the word “virgin” correctly - it always comes out “weir-gin” with a Eastern European accent.

Probably one of the reasons *Moonshine *resonates so well for me is that it reminds me a LOT of my alltime favorite vampire movie, the somewhat overlooked though not entirely obscure Martin, by George Romero. Also the story of real person, a boy in his teens, in a mundane–even depressingly mundane–setting. Most critics who’ve reviewed *Moonshine *have compared it to Martin, although interestingly Ingraham’s never seen it. Just by way of adding another “overlooked vampire movie” to the thread.

I loved Martin, excellent take on the genre. Another often-overlooked (and some would say justifiably so) is Vampire’s Kiss. A young Nic Cage in a performance that is definitely an acquired taste! But I enjoyed it…TRM