★★☆☆☆

Brought together at random by a car crash in the middle of the night, twentysomething Ariel (Emma Holzer) is thrown headfirst into a nightmare as she helps a mysterious man named Joshua (Josh Plasse) escape the attentions of a malevolent supernatural being. 

Logan Thomas’ There’s No Such Thing as Vampires is a movie arguably too full of references to the genre greats of yesteryear for its own good. It even begins with the replication of a classic Lynchian image: a road at night, headlights beaming bright, a car travelling at full speed. The film’s snarling, petrol-head energy also invokes in spirit the famous high-octane chase which kicks off George Miller’s Mad Max (1979).

Making strong use of its mostly nocturnal-set California desert locations and boasting plenty of fizzy pop vim, There’s No Such Thing as Vampires is an admirable if flawed attempt at sustained suspense and nail-biting tension. For after an attention-grabbing beginning, things flag a bit in the second act, as the story becomes a mix of Halloween slasher thrills and Terminator in the cop shop rerun. Though just when you think all is lost, the film suddenly peps up again, rallying to a surprising finale, the narrative taking a detour into unexpected territory and cleverly rewriting aspects of a central relationship which gave off initial vibes of being rushed or a generic romance.

Thomas and co-writer Aric Cushing, who also appears under heavy latex and makeup as the Big Bad, attempt to craft hints of mythology into their chase thriller, bringing a larger scope to the picture we’re seeing, in the latter parts recontextualising Ariel and Josh’s relationship into something far grander. These, however, only ever remain as glimpses of something bigger. It’s unlikely this film will kick off a new franchise, though to have that ambition for the material, on a miniscule budget, is commendable.

Of the cast, Holzer makes a plucky and engaging co-lead, while Meg Foster – last seen in Twin Peaks (2017) giving Dougie Jones (Kyle McLachlan) slot machine change – pops up for a fun cameo dispensing plot exposition with B-movie gusto.

Martyn Conterio@martynconterio