I dislike the term “mockumentary” but I want for a better word to describe a piece of fictional non-fiction. If a “mockumentary” is ostensibly a fictional story shot in documentary style, do recreations fall into that category? Or are “mockumentaries” only designated so if they’re funny? I suppose it doesn’t really matter as director Andrew Shearer self-applies the term to his movie Fake Blood, so if he isn’t bothered by the appellation, why should I be?
I still think we need a new term because of the prefix “mock”. Fake Blood never mocks its subject, despite the inherent humor.
Anyhoo… brother and sister act Edward and Meredith Benjamin have always wanted to make their own movie. Something with “tits and blood and blood all over tits,” is Meredith’s dream. And she just happens to find an old script of her brother’s entitled “Bikini Blood Suckers”. Although with a title like that, who needs a script? Edward’s pregnant wife Cathy isn’t thrilled with the idea, but once Edward decides to go ahead with the project she becomes grudgingly supportive. Things go too smoothly at first—his friend Jen has a Hi-8 video camera (“what distributors want”) and they get an email from a big soap opera star who wants to make the transition into horror. Veronica Weaver comes off as a consummate professional, thinks the material is daring and can’t wait to dive in. After a series of disasterous audition tapes arrive and their choice of co-star O.D.s while “celebrating” her good fortune, Ed has no choice but to put his effects-loving sister into the role of lesbian vampire. Well, he has no choice because Cathy won’t give him one. “You’re going to finish this movie,” she says, and it’s not just the hormones talking.
And before you can say “cursed production”, all sorts of wrong starts to go. Veronica’s professional veneer starts to slip, then peel, then shatter—a “nudity” clause in her contract is evoked at every turn and “nudity” becomes a term with a very loose definition. Jen’s absence from one crucial shoot means replacing her at the last minute with Cousin Bob, a pro cameraman with 86 movies under his belt this year. Okay, they’re all porn films but still… A fake fang is swallowed. Meredith is so rattled about acting she forgets to mix up the blood. And Veronica continues to get crazier. That Cathy sees right through her from the start and won’t take any shit from her at all doesn’t ease Ed’s pain in the slightest. But it’s all for the good of the movie. Or whatever it is they’re all trying to make.
Andrew Shearer and his Gonzoriffic team always seem to fly under the critical radar with their off-beat horror comedies, so if this one has passed you by, don’t beat yourself up. Just head over to gonzoriffic.com and pick it up because if you’re an indie filmmaker yourself, this movie has “you” stamped all over it. Everyone who has ever shot—or attempted to shoot—a movie with limited resources will feel Ed’s pain. And you’ll smile with unashamed schadenfreude, thanking god that it isn’t you suffering through any of this.
95% of Fake Blood feels 100% genuine thanks to unforced performances from Monica Puller (as Meredith), Mitsu Bitchi (as Veronica), Cara Lott (as Cathy), Countess Samela (as Jen) and Shearer himself as Ed. As a production family having worked together for many years, they’re all completely comfortable with each other, which makes for a relaxed atmosphere in which to fein uncomfortabilty. That all scenes were improvised is even more impressive. Any uncomfortable pauses or lapses were undoubtedly edited out by Shearer’s merciless cutting and the pacing feels sharp without feeling rushed (though the tail end of some scenes do feel clipped). But it’s the verity of the film, and the sincerity that runs throughout, that keeps you glued to the scene. That and the amazement you’ll feel at Veronica’s behavior, even when you see each demand coming.
Pick it up at www.gonzoriffic.com