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RATED Not Rated
STUDIO MPI Home Video
RUNNING TIME 86 Minutes
•Commentary with writer/director/star Onur Turkel
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Behind the Scenes of Summer of Blood
What if an awful indie-movie protagonist became a vampire?
Onur Turkel (Star/Writer/Director), Anna Margaret Hollyman, Dakota Goldhor, Jason Selvig, Melodie Sisk
Monumentally lazy, socially oblivious and commitment-shy Erik Sparrow is dumped by his career-woman girlfriend when he rejects her rather charitable marriage proposal. Feeling lost, he turns to a disastrous string of online dates that successively eat away at his already-deteriorating confidence until a lanky vampire turns him into an undead ladykiller. Soon, Eric is prowling the streets of Brooklyn in search of anything to satisfy both his maniacal sex drive and his hunger for blood.
What if a selfish, lazy, whiny, hipster jerk became a vampire? That’s the premise and the plot of S.O.B.: Summer of Blood (You get it?) The audience first meets Erik Sparrow (writer/director Onur Turkel) at an outdoor restaurant in New York City as his girlfriend of three years Jody (Anna Margaret Hollyman) proposes to him. Erik spends nearly five minutes rambling excuses of why this would be a bad idea, it starts out pathetic, becomes funny, and then becomes even more pathetic. As they leave Jody runs into an old flame and goes to get a drink with him as the man tells Erik he’s a loser that should get a haircut and a job.
The movie then spends a good amount of time making us feel bad for the way everyone treats Erik only to then spend more time showing us how much he deserves it. As we see him struggle with work, strike out in a series of escalatingly more cringe-worthy dates, and fruitlessly hit on his office crush the picture begins to fill in. Erik isn’t so bad, he’s reasonably charming, fairly cultured, and intelligent but he’s self-centered, pretentious, has a phobia of commitment, and has no idea when to stop talking. There are countless scenes where Erik successfully converses with people only to ruin it by continuing on a tangent that leads to an unpleasant part of his psyche.
There’s barely any foreshadowing of the vampire plot aside from a one-off joke involving a dying man that Erik meets early in the movie. At roughly the movie’s midpoint a tall man comes upon Erik in an alleyway and asks him if he wants to die, and amusingly even under a vampires mesmer he still rambles on about puerile bullshit for several minutes until the man bites him on the neck. Surprisingly the curse of vampirism turns out to be a major boon for Erik, who uses his newfound abilities to be a layabout sex god living rent free in New York. He’s living the hipster dream and even goes so far as to win over all the women he struck out with earlier in the film, and he indulges his every selfish whim.
Strangely, having everything he wants with no repercussions (there are no vampire hunters, no police, no secret societies of vampires out to stop him from blowing their cover, no romantic comedy downbeat, no buzzkill whatsoever) activates Erik’s conscience and he becomes a lot more empathetic to those around him. This doesn’t make him less of a jerk but it does remove his victim complex and make him a somewhat better person.
Erik is an interesting character: in many ways he’s a parody of your typical up-their-own-ass indie protagonist (there’s a lot of Woody Allen in there) and there are times where his behaviour becomes surreal to the point that you can’t really believe a person would say this kind of thing, but on the other hand his shortfalls and the moments of self-awareness make him one of the most truly human protagonists I can recall in anything. He’s certainly over-the-top but I think that just about anyone can see a little bit of Erik in themselves, if they look really hard. It really is a testament to Onur Turkelson’s acting as well as writing skills that Erik can be as likeable as he is when his personality is just so deliberately repellant.
Summer of Blood is basically a mumblecore movie with supernatural elements and your appreciation of it will really depend on how well you can get on board with that. There isn’t really a plot to speak of, nor much of a point, Erik starts the movie a dick and ends the movie a dick and though he’s grown he hasn’t really changed. At times S.O.B. lampoons the genre’s trappings and at other times it embraces them, Turkel manages to deftly choose which elements to exploit and which ones to mock. This is a movie that makes fun of hipsters, but still manages to be an excellent character study of them at the same time. It teases but never becomes overly condescending, even when it gets especially mean.
The character study of Erik is really the point of this movie and we learn a lot about a character who won’t stop talking but rarely says anything of substance. In fact, a good 90% of this movie’s dialogue is white noise and almost none of it moves the razor-thin plot along, but that’s irrelevant because this movie is just about Erik and who he is, nothing more.
I don’t want to undersell the comedy here, which is why each of the pictures in this review are captioned with a line from the film rather than my usual lazy snark. This is a brilliantly written movie and whether you’re familiar with hipster culture or not, I feel confident you’ll laugh out loud at least once. I walked away from this with a ton of lines that I’m going to treasure for years to come.
If you’re not big on mumblecore or independent romantic comedies then this may not be your bag. It’s certainly not for you if you like your horror comedies to be more of the former and less of the latter, but Summer of Blood is a fun, thoughtful, meticulously crafted, and surprisingly deep effort from an auteur that I’m genuinely pleased to have discovered. This movie needs to be seen.
The disc features a commentary with Turkel who rambles as much as Erik, but is a lot more self-deprecating and humble. There are some deleted and extended scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and a trailer. The movie is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with both 5.1 and 2.0 soundtracks and English subtitles.
Also, if you’re the try-it-before-you-buy-it sort, Summer of Blood is currently available on Netflix instant.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars