By Alan Graham

This doesn’t feel like a film made in 2021. Not really. Instead it feels like a TV pilot from 1990 has somehow been flung forward to modern times, an attempt by some coked-up executive from that decade to merge the success of Remington Steele with the growing market for Anne Rice tat.

You can see how an NBC executive back in the early nineties would have gone wild for the pitch – Olivia Romo (Dennice Cisneros) is a struggling writer of Vampire Romance novels who can’t get her work printed. Then, in the run up to Christmas, she decides to tend to an injured bat. Which, by the next morning, has incredibly reverted to his hot male vampire form Luke (Nico Bellamy). She promises to keep him safe from Vampire Hunters and the evil Vampires chasing him, he promises to help her improve the Vampiric accuracy in her novels.

Obviously, to work on a major US network, the pilot needs to keep it simple. The script wastes absolutely no time on mood, atmosphere, character or tension in order to establish the format as quickly as possible, as if it all needs to be in place before the first commercial break. And acting-wise, the mantra is clearly ‘keep it obvious’. If a character is thinking something over, don’t worry about missing this because on screen they will stroke their chin, their eyes drifting off into the distance. And if a character attempts to lie at any point, they don’t want to confuse anyone with the sort of subtle deception audiences at the time might have found on an episode of “Murder She Wrote”.

The production values scream early nineties – everything is brightly lit. Even the scenes set outside at night in the middle of Winter are bathed in more light than the Top Of The Pops studio. And when the film attempts to explore the sexual tension intrinsic to the Vampire Myth, it’s a family friendly wholesome presentation – if you can get off to the odd bare neck in a nightie and a man looking moodily at it, good luck to you. Nineties executives won’t want to scare off the advertisers with anything more risqué.

And here’s the rub – for a 1990 TV pilot this really wouldn’t be that bad at all. It pleasantly doesn’t take itself too seriously. The leads are likeable, and sell the scripts witty and silly moments well, and it has a nicely surprising ending. It feels like it could spawn a nineties TV show that your gran would insist on watching when you visited, but which you wouldn’t actually mind watching.

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