Vampire Bats (2005) / Horror-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for scary images, teen drinking, drug use and mild language
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Lucy Lawless, Dylan Neal, Robin Hines, Brett Butler, Timothy Bottoms, Jerrod Paige, Jessica Stroup
Director: Eric Bross
Screenplay: Doug Prochilo
Review published October 31, 2005
Lucy Lawless (Boogeyman, EuroTrip) stars as college biology professor Maddy Rierdon, a wife and mother that recently moved to Louisiana to raise her kids in a friendly environment. It's a quiet town until one of her students is found dead, two of her other students become suspects, and Maddy's insistence that the marks on the boy's body could only have come from an animal attack falls on deaf ears with the local law enforcement. It doesn't take long before other victims emerge, and Maddy's studies indicate that the attacks could only have been administered by vampire bats, which are not only not indigenous to the area, but their behavioral patterns are inconsistent with what science already knows about them. While the police are hell-bent on poisoning the swarm of bats, Maddy thinks that the problem will still persist until someone finds out just what is making the bats attack so voraciously. With the assistance of her biology class, Maddy gets on the case.
It's very clear why Vampire Bats was made, as it appeared as the CBS Movie of the Week the day before Halloween. It serves to offer up a few scares in typical teen horror movie fashion, not much different than most fodder you'd find being dumped by movie studios in the theaters at this time the same time of year. The biggest miscalculation, however, is that anyone in the viewing audience would find any of this stuff scary. The plot is all-too-familiar, with we can easily guess the mystery to what's going on easy to figure out long the ever-resourceful Maddy can. It doesn't help that director Eric Bross has no idea how to build up to a good scare to at least give us a couple of cheap thrills.
Most made-for-network-TV films shamelessly go for certain audiences and demographics, and that's certainly the case here. Lots of teen partying and carousing is on display throughout the film, with an emphasis in finding ways to show these hot babes and hunks wearing as close to nothing as possible. CBS also is hoping for some repeat business, as they bring back the two main characters of an earlier hit telefilm from 2005, Locusts, also played by Lawless and on-screen husband, Dylan Neal. Of course, there is also the sensationalistic factor of seeing a few grisly deaths and animal attacks, but anyone that has seen The Birds, or even Bats, will probably be either yawning or snickering at how silly it all is.
This is one of those movies that I feel embarrassed to overanalyze, especially in the ways they contrive to involve every character into the story. I'll refrain from pointing out all of the illogical motivations and ludicrous scientific explanations, mostly because no one watches a film called Vampire Bats to see a great story or an interesting study on nature. Still, taking Vampire Bats on its own teen shocker terms, this is an extremely derivative horror film too mild in its attempts to hash up a few scares to bother with.
©2005 Vince Leo