Heartfelt Indie Horror Comedy Danni and the Vampire (2022) is Cinematic Bubbly
Title: Danni and the Vampire
First Non-Festival Release: January 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Max Werkmeister
Writer: Max Werkmeister
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Starring: Alexandra Landau, Henry Kiely, Lew Hopson
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Travelling the country in an attempt to find purpose in her life, Danni (Alexandra Landau) finds herself in throes of a battle between two underground organizations: one whose mission is to seek out cryptids and destroy them and another who vows to protect vulnerable cryptids. Danni is approached by both organizations, due to her reputation involving an incident with the Jersey Devil, in the case of Remy (Henry Kiely), a vampire currently in control by the anti-cryptid organization. Danni is sure of her choice but is unaware of how deeply this moment will affect her life’s trajectory and fill the purposeless void she’s been feeling for years.
A saccharine indie vampire comedy, Danni and the Vampire trades blood for laughs in this quirky indie film.
A comedy of conveniences cause Danni to act recklessly regarding Remy. Her involvement with both the organization that wants him dead and the other that wants to liberate him feels woefully opportune but works adequately to setup the action for the rest of the film. The second half drags, and the final act gets a bit flustered, but ultimately Danni and the Vampire ends on a satisfying note. Touching on online activism, criminal justice, and religion, it is impossible to say that Danni and the Vampire is bereft of things to say whilst making one of the horror genre’s closest examples of a traditional romantic comedy.
Purpose and direction can come in many forms. Danni is longing to better interact in a world where she doesn’t feel like she belongs. Travelling from coast to coast, lacking any real connections with others, and frequenting the most pitiful dive bars ever has jaded Danni to life. It isn’t until she meets Remy that she finds purpose in helping him achieve his dreams. Remy, on the other hand, doesn’t know how to take action and the idea of realizing his dreams excites him while simultaneously paralyzing him. There’s something beautifully simple about two characters helping each other find meaning in things that otherwise would be meaningless. It’s the kind of winning message for an era fraught with political conflict, mass panic, and hypercriticism.
The two leads are affable enough and sell their over-the-top, wacky selves in a genuine way. Almost feeling too real, the pair crack jokes, contort themselves for physical comedy, and match each other’s energy in every scene. Some of the dialogue gets very cringeworthy but it never ventures out of the style of humor the film maintains. Thankfully, the cast is capable enough to make it work most of the time. The supporting cast work a step below Landau and Kiely, often hamming up their performances to heights that go beyond the film’s confines. It works enough for the comedy aspects of the film, but their characters come across more as caricatures than real people.
The low budget hampers some of the moments that could be improved on a technical lens with bigger set pieces but there is something intimate and warm about Danni and the Vampire. The effects work is what you would expect for an indie film, but it always feels more charming than cheap. Some moments feel as if they are pared down to alleviate budget concerns rather than to fit the best narrative. Regardless, Danni and the Vampire is a light-hearted and cozy dark comedy that leads with heart over structure.
Unabashed in its optimism and charm, Danni and the Vampire woos viewers looking for a sweeter bit of genre sampling. Outlandish performances, intentionally goofy effects, and infectious montages make Danni and the Vampire a surprisingly fun and sentimental vampire flick. With a premise that somehow subverts traditional subgenre trappings, this indie film prefers to bask in the glow of the leads learning to find purpose, meaning, and love within a life that sometimes feels so empty. It is certainly not a movie for everyone, and the act gets a bit stale in the middle, but if you are looking for a pick me up kind of movie, Danni and the Vampire is one that will not let you down.
Overall Score? 5.5/10