By DAKOTA DAHL
Starring Ryan Barton-Grimley, Ari Schneider, Jana Savage and Richard Gayler
Written and Directed by Ryan Barton-Grimley
Freestyle Digital Media
After the massive and deserved success of Cobra Kai, we as a society have just started to agree that seeing men in arrested development is funny. HAWK & REV: VAMPIRE SLAYERS takes the idea of a person perpetually trapped in the shallow, superficial morals of the bombastically awesome ’80s, transposes them into modern world, and also injects some bloodsuckers into he plot. It’s basically watching what would happen if one of the Frog Brothers from The Lost Boys grew up to be dead end losers with no grasp of how to navigate the real world, while also occasionally stumbling ass backwards into actual supernatural threats.
The film opens with a detestably fucktastic douche-bro testosteroning down an alley in the mean streets of Santa Muerte (nice.) He’s promptly drained of blood by an unseen force, presumably by a vampire. Next, we meet the titular Hawk, played cartoonishly by writer/director Ryan Barton-Grimley. Hawk is living in his parents yard, which is not what they had in mind when they told him to move out, so that gives you a pretty good idea of his mental state and overall success in life. He’s a perpetually late security guard, protecting a completely empty warehouse from absolutely nothing. This is one of the few jobs he could secure after being released on parole from a military prison. Hawk totally staked a dude (like, a lot, with a 2×4) while in the army, and while flashbacks make it seem like Hawk was justified, you explain the existence of vampires to MPs. During this depressing introduction, we also meet Hawk’s best, and only, friend, Rev, who almost instantly self describes as a pacifist vegan. He’s basically a caricature of what Conservative senators think liberals are; he’s lazy, he’s dim, he does Tai Chi on the beach, he wears a straw fucking hat. Basically, you are meant to hate him, which is pulled off much more convincingly by the comedic timing of Ari Schneider. Ari is definitely distilling the essence of every single T.J. Miller character ever, creating a dickhead with such an open mind that his limited brains spill out, the perfect foil for someone with as rigid a worldview as Hawk.
While doing a nightly patrol of his crimeless domain, Hawk witnesses what appear to be vampires unloading a dead body. Most of the audience should only be half-convinced that they’re undead, since you don’t actually see a dead body and these kids are just dressed as Goths, although they do have a speechless gimp with them, so they must be up to something. Surprisingly, Hawk convinces Rev to help him deal with the undead problem, and the two begin their journey into the world of slaying. While picking up gallons of holy water, they meet Theo (Jana Savage, Praise This, #Realityhigh) who is writing a book about vampires. This may or may not be a ruse to look into how totally fucked Hawk’s life is, considering he also might be just a lunatic murderer. Hawk & Rev also attempt to enlist Jasper (Richard Gayler, Among Thieves, Life In The Fast Lane) who Hawk met in the military prison. Jasper is as unbalanced as you’d expect from someone willing to tolerate Hawk, begrudgingly agreeing to train the two before stripping them naked and stealing their clothes. The whole time this is happening, the bodies continue to pile up, Hawk and Rev continue to grow their friendship, and tomfoolery continues apace.
HAWK & REV: VAMPIRE SLAYERS is definitely a product of our times. It’s extremely meta, with Hawk criticizing From Dusk ‘til Dawn for the self insert of the director, which is doubly funny considering who is playing Hawk. It’s a criticism of romanticised nostalgia while also lampooning thoughtless contrarianism in certain counter cultures. If all that sounds a little too highbrow, don’t worry, this is all done through a rapid-fire set of gags and goofs, most of which land.
The frights are low, and the laughs are high in HAWK & REV, with a majority of the yucks coming from the rollercoaster that is Ari Schneider, who seamlessly transitions from peace loving hippie to violence crazed lunatic to flailing coward in the span of minutes. The movie is mostly self aware, fairly competent and easily worth a watch for anyone loves ’80s movies almost as much as they love making fun of ’80s movies.
HAWK AND REV : VAMPIRE SLAYERS is now available on iTunes, Xbox, Google Play, and YouTube Movies