'Vampires Suck'

This instantly forgettable trifle is fairly close to worthless.

After the excruciating imbecility of their previous free-form, laugh-free genre parodies — “Date Movie,” “Meet the Spartans” and “Disaster Movie” — the lame mediocrity of “Vampires Suck” undeniably reps an advance for writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. By just about any other standard, however, this instantly forgettable trifle is fairly close to worthless. Brandishing obvious gags, uninventive slapstick and stale pop-culture allusions, the filmmakers only occasionally hit the bull’s-eye while aiming at assorted easy targets provided by the teen angst and supernatural bloodletting of the ongoing “Twilight” franchise. Expect a fleeting theatrical run before interment in Redbox kiosks.

Set in the Pacific Northwest hamlet of Sporks, Wash. — played, in a bold stroke of casting, by Shreveport, La. — “Vampires Suck” pivots on the odd coupling of Becca Crane (Jenn Proske), the beautiful sourpuss daughter of the local sheriff (Diedrich Bader), and Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter), an equally moody pale-complexioned hunk. They look great together, especially during moments of slo-mo staring, and have several things in common (insecurities, nervous tics, severe melancholia, borderline-nonexistent social skills). Unfortunately, there’s a serious impediment to the happily-ever-aftering: He’s, like, sort of a vampire.

Not that Becca isn’t totally cool with that. But some members of Edward’s extended family — and at least three other bloodsuckers in the vicinity — would like to tap her like a keg at a frat party. All things considered, she might be better off with Jacob White (Chris Riggi), a muscular classmate and budding werewolf who tries to romance Becca when he’s not chasing stray cats.

Although appreciably more focused than earlier efforts by Friedberg and Seltzer — this time, they’re content to skewer only three or four pics rather than five or six dozen — “Vampires Suck” finds time for jokey references to the usual number of overexposed celebrities (Tiger Woods, Kim Kardashian, ad nauseam) and TV shows. (Rest assured, there is a nod to “Jersey Shore.”) The only real surprise, considering this is a Fox release, is a modestly clever dig at Fox News.

The well-cast lead players struggle mightily to remain at once earnest and over the top, with uneven results. Comic actor Ken Jeong is criminally underused in a supporting role as slumming vampire royalty, but his exuberant silliness is good for a few giggles. Tech values are marginally better than might be expected.

Vampires Suck

Production

A 20th Century Fox release of a Regency Enterprises presentation of a New Regency/3 in the Box production. Produced by Peter Safran, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer. Executive producer, Arnon Milchan. Co-producers, Jerry P. Jacobs, Hal Olofsson. Directed, written by Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color), Shawn Maurer; editor, Peck Prior; music, Christopher Lennertz; music supervisors, Dave Jordan, Jojo Villanueva; production designer, William Elliott; art director, Kevin Hardison; set designer, Shannon Boykin; set decorator, Teresa Visinare; costume designer, Alix Hester; sound (Dolby/DTS), Steve Aaron; supervising sound editor, Anna Mackenzie; co-supervising sound editor, Xavier Horan; visual effects supervisors, Ray McIntyre Jr., Jamison Goei; visual effects, Pixel Magic, Rez-Illusion; assistant director, Hal Olofsson; second unit director, Keith Adams; casting, Nancy Foy. Reviewed at AMC Studio 30, Houston, Aug. 17, 2010. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Becca Crane - Jenn Proske Edward Sullen - Matt Lanter Frank Crane - Diedrich Bader Jacob White - Chris Riggi Daro - Ken Jeong Jennifer - Anneliese Van Der Pol Fisherman Sculley - David DeLuise Iris - Kelsey Ford Principal Smith - Dave Foley Dr. Carlton - Jeff Witzke Rachel - Arielle Kebbel

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