Many films talk about capturing a grindhouse look but settle for adding digital film damage. However, the first thing I noticed about Matthew Packman’s new film Morbid Colors was its look. It had that low budget, shot on 16mm film look of so many older films. And that’s fitting, as its plot places it alongside such grindhouse meets art house vampire films as George Romero’s Martin and Ganja and Hess.
Myca (Kara Grey, Payton’s Burden) and Devin (Lanae Hyneman) are sisters. Apart from a rough life, they have little in common though. Myca is a manipulative junkie who’s just come back to town. Devin would probably be the only one to miss her if she left again. However, when her band’s drummer ends up in jail Devin gets her sister a gig as their drummer. Unfortunately, this ends with Myca vomiting blood on stage and both of them getting the boot.
In the aftermath of this Myca tells her sister she was turned after an encounter with Gloria (Cindy Maples, 10/31, Hell Is Full) a wealthy female vampire. And the only hope of reversing it is to track her down and kill her. Are these the delusions of a drug-addled mind? Or is Myca’s humanity really at stake?
Like Martin, Myca lacks fangs. She also doesn’t have a problem going out during the day and is visible in a mirror. Which leaves us questioning her claims even more. Indeed, Morbid Colors is more of a grim road trip than a horror movie. Which, having seen the director’s previous film Margo, shouldn’t have surprised me.
Just as that film subverted the post-apocalyptic genre, Morbid Colors uses vampirism to tell a story of broken homes, broken lives and sisterhood. It’s something of a punk rock Thelma and Louise but a lot harder to watch. Not because this is a bad film, but because it’s entirely too good at examining bad things. The things in real life that are more horrifying than bloodsuckers could ever be.
The acting by the two leads is excellent, especially Kara Grey. She has the task of making us care about Myca who is an unlikable bitch. Angela Steele as Leni, their junkie mother also gives an excellent performance. Well, Myca’s mother and Devin’s adoptive mother, a detail that becomes important later in the film. If you want a conventional vampire film look elsewhere. If you want a brutal slice of life drama Morbid Colors more than delivers.
The premiere screenings of Morbid Colors were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just when the film will make its debut is currently unknown. However, you can keep an eye on the film’s Facebook page for information about that and the festival dates that will probably follow.