I first saw this film in a not quite complete print at the excellent Abertoir horror festival in Aberystwyth, back in November 2010. I enjoyed it then, but found myself struggling at times with the pacing and relatively dark photography, after having previously seen so many other films just prior to it. Having now seen the fully finished version I must say it was definitely worth another look and I probably enjoyed it more this time around than when I saw it at the festival.
They seem to have picked up the pacing a bit, dropped a few scenes (although I could be wrong) and sharpened up the contrast and audio in postproduction, so it’s now easier to see and hear what’s going on. Although the credits sequence is still way too dragged out; talking about a slow crawl, most slugs are ten times faster!
So what’s Umbrage about, I hear you asking? Well, it revolves around an ancient antiquities dealer (played by the ever reliable Doug Bradley) bringing his rather dysfunctional family to their new farmhouse to start afresh. A very rare obsidian mirror, he’s bought to sell on, is also there and on opening the package up he doesn’t realise he’s allowed Lilith, the first vampire of the title, to escape into the world and also consequently summoned her nemesis, a cowboy vampire, Phelan, to come looking for her too.
What follows are a series of nasty and rather messy encounters with the vampires and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the fragile humans are going to come off worse! There’s some pleasing originality with regard to the vampire mythology, although some of the flashbacks are more laughable than shocking, particularly the rape of Lilith by Adam, the first man, in the rather damp and cold looking Garden of Eden. It’s quite a feat, making a shocking act of violence funny, but they succeeded!
Credit is due though to the filmmakers themselves for producing a very watchable movie on an obviously modest budget that has plenty of value on screen, especially the excellent western farmhouse locations.
Acting wise, top plaudits must go to Jonnie Hurn as the Irish cowboy vampire, who obviously had a lot of fun with the role, and good old Doug Bradley, who is currently under utilised by UK cinema, and Rita Ramnani as his ‘step’ daughter Rachel, who does well with her moody teenager role. Less convincing were Natalia Celino as Lilith (a tough nut to crack though) and Grace Vallorani as the pregnant wife, although neither were awful. I wasn’t so sure about the guys playing the hikers and wasn’t impressed with the whole hikers subplot.
Overall, if you enjoy vampire films and are a fan of Doug Bradley then I’d recommend this film; it’s considerably better than much of the independent vampire and zombie tat that’s currently floating around at the moment.
Reviewer: Justin Richards
Left Films have just released Umbrage on DVD, so keep a look out for it on the shelves of your local HMV or supermarket. Extras on the disc include a fairly representative trailer, a cool music video, and an informal interview with Mr Pinhead himself, which is pretty fun. Oh, and there’s an ok making of documentary and a commentary track also. Check out the funny stories Doug tells about some of his crazy fans – priceless!