I'm prefacing this review by saying that I'm not a fan of the vampire sub-genre. For the most part, its tired, worn and overall, the formula is stale. Insert euro trashy stylings, eastern European accents, women in corsets, sex and bloodlust, rinse, repeat. Its not until someone reaches out of the general constructs do I actually sit up and take notice (Let the Right One In and Fessenden's Habit come to mind). But for the most part, I don't pay attention to anything that comes out starring everyone's favorite mallcore, Hot Topic darlings. Thanks to filmmaker James Spanos for again making me sit up, take notice and for completely turning me on my head.
Meet Martin. He spends his weekends searching for women in his small Texas town. Not just any women, pure and virginal ones who are easily taken by his charms and unassuming nature. Martin proceeds to convince each one to an innocent cup of coffee or stroll through the park while chowing down on some ice cream. When they aren't looking, he dumps a drugging agent into whatever it is they are consuming and takes them back home. And why does he go through all the trouble of stalking, befriending, drugging and dragging them back home? You see, dear old dad is an aging vampire whom son has confined and strapped to his bed in order to save him from himself and others.
Dad digs into Martin when he actually starts to fall for one of the girls. You see, Dad's really taken a particular liking to her blood supply and he needs to start procuring more, ASAP. When Martin starts trying to live some sort of semblance of a normal life, dad starts in with his guilt telling Martin that he doesn't love him anymore and that he will leave him for dead. Mirrored in much the same way as someone who is actually suffering from some sort of terminal disease with a person who cares for them and who's life revolves around them, Maidenhead is masterfully allegorical in that sense.
As Martin continues to try and have a normal relationship with the formerly stalked girl, dad gets more and more incensed and impatient with having to drink month old blood which Martin has been storing in the fridge. When his new girlfriend comes over to the house one day unannounced, and Martin is at church (he's started to attend regularly and you are lead to believe its cathartic for him), she lets herself inside the home, not knowing what lies beyond the door of the father's bedroom. Like all good vampires do, dad charms the pants off of her and after a little back and forth, she becomes his first real meal in ages. The son comes home to find dad passed out and he knows immediately what has taken place. This is his tipping point and he's had enough, making the decision to pull the plug (or in this case, drive a stake). The end sees our caring son wake up just like every other morning previous, walking into dad's room but instead of pops, we have a new resident who's been shackled to the bed.
Maidenhead completely takes evey convention you've ever come to know about the vampire film and completely turns the sub genre on its head. A passing nod to Romero's Martin (main character's name, vampirism as some sort of disease etc.) but it takes things one step further. You empathize with Martin (played to perfection by AJ Bowen) and if you've ever taken care of a family member or friend suffering from illness or disease, this movie will really hit home. With him now caring for a true love, it feels as though he has accepted his role in life. You now know Martin is continuing the cycle of care but in a different way. A brilliant ending to a brilliant film.
Cortez the Killer