Greetings again from the darkness. We are taught from an early age to take good care of our teeth. For vampires, oral health care is even more important. See, their fangs cannot grow back … in fact, that’s the only part of their bodies that those supernatural powers can’t heal. This leads us to the premise of this film – vampire hunters collecting fangs not just to thin the heard, but also for the monetary reward attached to such valuable collectibles. Look, I’m trying here; but this first feature from long-time stuntman and stunt coordinator JJ Perry suffers from a lackluster script seemingly gap-filled to connect a handful of decent ideas and raucous fight sequences.
Bud Jablonski (Oscar winner Jamie Foxx) is a struggling pool cleaner. He’s behind on his rent, and his daughter needs braces and her school tuition is due. Making things more stressful and urgent, his ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) is threatening to pack up and move their daughter Paige (rising star Zion Broadnax) cross-country from the San Fernando Valley to Florida. She gives Bud just a few days to raise the money. We get a tour of the familiar spots in the valley, and then quickly move to the first action sequence. Bud’s “real” job is hunting vampires and selling those precious fangs. He takes on an “old” lady in a cartoonish fight sequence that serves as a precursor to most every fight scene that follows. The fangs don’t bring much on the black market run by the always colorful Peter Stormare, but it leads Bud to request re-entry into the Vampire Hunter’s Union … a very inspired idea in a film that isn’t consistently filled with them. Bud’s sponsor is none other than the legendary vampire hunter, Big John Elliott (played masterfully by Snoop Dogg).
It turns out Bud has been expelled from the Union for multiple infractions over the years, and the shop steward (a mulleted Eric Lange) has one condition … Bud must be accompanied on his hunts by nerdy union clerk Seth (Dave Franco). What we soon learn is that Seth is not cut out for the field, and more importantly, Bud’s old lady kill was actually the daughter of Queen Vamp Audrey (Karla Souza), who also happens to be a real estate developer looking to mainstream the population of vampires into the Valley. Audrey seeks revenge by kidnapping Bud’s ex-wife and daughter, and Bud’s rescue mission becomes a veritable blood bath.
The Miami Vice joke made me chuckle, but for an action-horror-comedy, there are simply too few laughs. With the talent on screen, we can only look to the script for fault. Director Perry certainly knows his way around stunts and fight scenes, and while we may question the career choices of a very talented Jamie Foxx, he continues to work regularly and expand his producing skills. For those who enjoy sinking their teeth into over-the-top fight sequences (Perry worked on the first two John Wick movies) and aren’t too demanding on the cleverness of jokes, this one will likely work. And I likely speak for all viewers when I say that Snoop Dogg makes the coolest cowboy since ‘the man with no name’.
Opens on Netflix beginning August 12, 2022