Hmmm... What to say about Martin? I was excited to bring this one to the table. Finding a potential Horror Club classic (a film that none of us have seen) is becoming an increasingly difficult endeavour, I was hoping that Martin might be that choice for me. From what I’d read it seemed like a potentially excellent film. George Romero’s take on the vampire canon? Yes please…
As the final credits rolled, the feeling in the room seemed to be a collective “meh”. Personally, I was looking forward to the film finishing from about half way through, it was a pretty boring couple of hours. Martin is a really interesting character: he’s part social misfit, part violent sociopath and, of course, part vampire. I say interesting... he’s interesting on paper. In the actual film though he’s quite irritating and dull. His lifeless voice, his sulky teenage disposition; he’s tough to watch for any length of time. Unfortunately, we have to watch him a whole lot in this movie and ain't much fun being in his company.
The film begins with Martin awkwardly attacking a female passenger on a train. It’s an awkward opening scene, very uncomfortable to watch; the kind of scene that makes you wonder why you watch these sort of movies at all! Soon after Martin arrives in Pittsburgh to live with his insane cousin. Quite why Martin chooses to live with him is never really clear to me, but we soon learn that the family has a curse going back generations. The curse, just like the premise of the movie, is interesting and it feels worthy of deeper exploration. But despite an interesting backstory, it never feels like the movie is really going anywhere. The only drama or tension comes from the scenes where Martin is attacking a female. These scenes are not scary, they are just uncomfortable to watch. The rest of the film is spent watching Martin skulk about a new city, the film focuses on his lack of connections with people. We see flashbacks, but they feel disjointed and a little hammy. If the only type of scenes on offer are ones that bore you, or make you feel properly uncomfortable, you aren’t on to a good thing.
The formula sounds so promising: an original vampire tale, interesting backstory, some depth to the characters (i.e. the cousin and Martin’s lonely housewife companion) and of course George Romero. Unfortunately, the final element of the formula seems to be the problem. Perhaps because it was directed by George Romero (and probably because of my high expectations going in) I am critiquing Martin more harshly than some other poor Horror Club movies. But we’ve watched two Romero films at Horror Club: Martin and The Crazies, and they’ve both been ranked very low on my list. While I have to admit that I was a bit tipsy when we watched The Crazies, I did see enough of it to recognise the same thing in Martin... the movie just feels flat, like a glass of Asda cola or a piece of music that is played too quietly. There’s no pulse to the film - some type of thrill or buzz just seems to be missing. I can’t say too much about The Crazies, because I fell asleep, but the very fact that I did suggests it lacked an important ingredient in an entertaining movie.
I don’t want to come down too hard on old Georgie boy, because he’s had a rough couple of years with Diary of the Dead etc. and it’s not like he didn’t know how to make a good movie in his prime. But I have to say that Martin was a major disappointment. Lots of promise, very disappointing end product.
Avoid like a classic zombie outbreak.