Dir. Tom Conyers 96 mins
UK Release: 22nd July 2013
Australian vampires, an infrequently used part of the horror industry if ever there was one. I guess you could throw Daybreakers in there, but that felt more ‘mid-pacific’ if anything. The Caretaker however, belongs firmly in the barren outback.
People are beginning to desert the towns and cities thinking there is a flu epidemic about to hit, and a few incidents have some of the infected people displaying psychotic symptoms. As the movie starts, the viewer is thrown in a little at the deep end as we’re quickly introduced to three groups of characters where we have to work hard to ascertain their place in the story.
Dr. Ford Grainger (Mark White) arrives at the sizeable property of Lester (Colin MacPherson). He lives with his elderly mother who has recently been showing symptoms of what Lester terms ‘dementia’, simply due to the fact that she’s been acting demented. As Lester describes how she’s feeling – avoidance of sunlight, mirrors having to be covered etc, we get a good idea of what the problem might be. Likewise with Dr. Grainger who arrives in dark glasses, dashes into the house to avoid the bright sunlight, has reddened eyes and sports what seem to be fairly prominent canines.
Meanwhile Ron (Lee Mason), is presenting his agenda in a pub to a reasonably attentive crowd, coming across as a quite pathetic individual who has obviously (and unwillingly) just come out of a long term relationship and finds it somewhat cathartic to present anti-feminist claptrap to his drinking buddies. Finally we have Guy (Clint Dowdell) and Annie (Anna Burgess) whose relationship seems a little strained, but then they do both come across as a little eccentric.
After the separate introductions, the key people converge at Lester’s house as for now it seems the only safe place to be. With things escalating outside, the Dr. Grainger decides to break it to everybody (how they haven’t guess I don’t know) that this flu epidemic is actually an outbreak of vampirism and that he himself is one too. With little room for maneuver, the rest of the group settle on an uneasy alliance in that they will guard the house in the daylight while Dr. Grainger sleeps, and he will protect them through the night.
One of the things you take away from The Caretaker is the characters. Granted, they’re not all likeable, but they are all memorable, which is certainly something in a genre where in most films the characters are about as fleshed out as Gwyneth Paltrow. Be it Ron with his disdain for women “yeah, go on – leave, you all do at some point”, to Guy with his crazy conspiracy theories, to Lester with his roving eye for the younger ladies.
Add to this plenty of gore which belies its ‘15’ certificate and you have a very effective vampire movie. One criticism which seems frequent in a few reviews is that the music grated. I felt the opposite in all honesty, and thought that it benefitted it as more than anything it emphasised the tragic nature of this potential end of civilisation.
6 out of 10