Friendship Proves a Challenge for Evil in Hawk & Rev Vampire Slayers

Santa Muerta, California has a vampire problem. Philip “Hawk” Hawkins (Ryan Barton-Grimley) has too much time on his hands and the desire to be a hero. Mix the two together, add a bumbling sidekick and a reluctant girlfriend, and you have the much enjoyable horror-comedy, Hawk & Rev: Vampire Slayers.

Hawk & Rev: Vampire Slayers focuses on the story of Hawk, a night security guard who doesn’t just dream about killing vampires—he is obsessed with the concept. His life has taken an unfortunate turn after getting kicked out of the army for staking a fellow soldier with a blunt two-by-four. He now lives in a hobo camp in his parents’ backyard after being asked to leave the house—at least for the time being until he is forced to move into an actual hobo camp.

Hawk sits in front of a store with his friend.Just when it looks like all of Hawk’s options in life have expired, vampires appear in town, and no one believes him when he tries to warn them. To be fair, there may be vampires, but they won’t be found in the group that Hawk witnesses pull up to a warehouse in an SUV with a license plate that reads “DARKNESS.”

To save his reputation—such that it is—and to exterminate these vampires, Hawk enlists the help of the one person who sort of believes him (or rather, believes IN him): Revson “Rev” McCabe (Ari Schneider), a dimwitted, vegan-pacifist groundskeeper. Hawk begins training Rev to take on the bloodsuckers along with the help of Hawk’s writer/girlfriend, Theo (Jana Savage), who just wants to write a novel about the two.

Along the way, the ragtag group enlists the help of Jasper (Richard Gayler), a “lone wolf” mentor who Hawk met in a maximum-security military prison. Jasper proves to be not only a bit of a liability but a true force to be reckoned with, and he pushes the bumbling threesome to reach deep inside and find their inner heroes.

Hawk and Rev movie posterThis is a fun movie that doesn’t require a ton of thought. It is one of those films you can put on, zone out for a couple of hours, and just enjoy yourself. The relationship between Hawk and Rev reminded me a lot of Tucker and Dale from another amazing horror comedy, Tucker and Dale Versus Evil. Think Tucker and Dale married with the pot-head ingenuity of Jay and Silent Bob of Clerks and Mallrats fame.

Writer/director/producer Ryan Barton-Grimley said,

I made Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers because I was looking for a laugh and something truly heartfelt, some much-needed levity and humor. It is quite simply a love letter to my childhood in the mid-1980s, a more innocent and clueless time when everything seemed possible. I really just hope viewers enjoy the ride and have a nice heartfelt feeling and the knowledge that maybe, just maybe, we’ll all be OK.

This low-budget film accomplishes Barton-Grimley’s mission. It has all the ingredients of a heartfelt friendship film, including redemption for our educationally challenged protagonists at the end.

A rare look inside a vampire lair.The movie opens with an ’80s-inspired theme song, and the music continues to compliment the comedic elements throughout. Ari Schneider’s portrayal of the loveable hippy, Rev, perfectly complements Hawk’s wannabe-tough-guy demeanor. The trust and love between these two lead Rev to follow Hawk into the vampire lair without anything but blind faith. Good thing these vampires end up being a local goth band with bad makeup. But that doesn’t mean the duo is out of the woods…it just means they have a new group of accomplices to help them with the true threat to their hometown. Jana Savage’s Theo adds another dimension to the trio by forcing Hawk to grow up a little in order to pursue a relationship and to see someone outside of himself. Her reluctance to be Hawk’s girlfriend adds to the comedic energy and leaves her playing the straight man to her two partners in slaying.

The film has its share of the requisite jokes and one-liners that will make you groan and roll your eyes and other characters who are comedic foils that maybe don’t quite live up to their responsibilities (the hobo camp accountant comes to mind). However, the parents who are fed up with their son’s lack of motivation and hilariously have him trespassed from their home, a boss who doesn’t understand or have time for Hawk’s on-the-job shenanigans, and the goth’s band’s gimp all jump in to save the day where those concepts fail.

This movie is stupid, and I say that with all due respect and love. I’m a huge fan of B-movies, especially B-horror films, and this one lives up to its place in that category. There’s no apologizing for the fact that this is a movie for those who love terrible movies, and I don’t think that Barton-Grimley would disagree or take offense. These characters were written not to take themselves too seriously, and the audience wins because of it.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what this filmmaker does next.

Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers will be available to rent and own on North America digital HD Internet, cable, and satellite platforms and on DVD on March 16 through Freestyle Digital Media.

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Written by Audrie Bretl Martin

Audrie Bretl Martin is a full-time communicator and a lover of all things pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Augustana College and a master's degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Iowa.

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