With commitment to the found footage formula ‘The Black Water Vampire’ takes the sub-genre right back to its roots with a plot easily sistered with the Blair Witch Project, naturally replacing said witch with a vampire creature who stalks beautiful women in the woods.
Personally speaking I have grown tired of the haunted house plot lines countless POV movies have visited in recent times, and whilst many critics may quickly dismiss this movie as a clone, I would encourage fans to give this one a watch, enjoy its nostalgia, but most of all, enjoy it for its individual merits - namely an awesome creature design, and some truly relentless set pieces.
The plot covers familiar ground. An amateur wannabe presenter makes it her mission to prove the innocence of a convicted man by documenting an investigation into the back woods site of ‘Black Water Woods’ where the bodies of four women have been discovered with the same mo over the last forty years. Once there the team find a rural town whose inhabitants don’t take kindly to the publicity, a wealth of non way-marked forest tracks to get lost on and a creature whose stalk and screech tactics makes for some fairly tense and jumpy film making.
Naturally, as is fairly typical, the ‘documentary’ theme is abandoned about halfway though, and most of the movie is told in regular cinematic style which might put off some purists. The characters are fairly inoffensive, not necessarily likable, but they relatable and don’t piss you off. Where the movies cast shines though is through the supporting cast, whose genuine acting and interesting personas bring to life the mythos of the story though their interviews at the beginning of the movie. The script is good, and I appreciated the lack of faux ‘getting-to-know-the-characters’ conversation which rather than being nonchalant often tends to be cheesy and intelligence insulting.
The locations play to the same strengths as the aforementioned ‘Blair Witch Project’. Spooky woods at night, and in the snow, offer far more atmosphere and dread than any dressed set. The day scenes are complemented by harrowing noises, isolation and the odd voyeuristic set piece, whilst the night scenes are effective as the camera only shows what you would expect to see in the woods at night, with effective use of torch light allowing orientation, and ultimately the jump scares which deliver time after time.
This movie is scary, which is more than I can say for most POV, and what I found very refreshing the creature, which is shown on screen (as opposed to the ethereal ghosts which you never see), looks amazing. The first few scenes where it is introduced are guaranteed to give you the shivers. The vampire is traditionally bat-like which gives the movie a nostalgic feel. In fact, I enjoyed the nostalgic nature of the whole film - the ‘Blair Witch Project’ was good for many reasons, the story, setting and atmosphere was bang on; in my opinion a good ‘copy’ is welcomed - of course one persons nostalgia is another person’s ‘rip-off’ so I will leave it up to you to decide where your tolerances lie.
Overall my critique of the movie ends here. Being POV it suffers from the same restrictive camerawork as all of its sub-genre brethren, but for me a decent story, told with conviction and most of all pace elevates ‘The Black Water Vampire’ far above the many many clones I have reviewed over the last few months. The creature is amazing and this movie is guaranteed to give you the chills, especially in its final set pieces.