Review – The San Fernando Valley Bites (“Day Shift”)

Mix John Carpenter’s Vampires, Van Helsing, and From Dawn Til Dusk, and you’ll have this dark comedy about vampire hunters in Reseda. Oh, they’re also hunting blood-suckers in my hometown of Simi Valley, so there’s that.

Jamie Foxx stars as Bud Jablonski, a disgraced vampire killer who is trying to get back into his union. In this universe, vampire hunters earn their money by selling vampire fangs of their kills; the older the better, and Bud is desperate for cash as his divorced wife (Meagan Good) is preparing to move to Florida along with his little girl, Paige (Zion Broadnax). After his buddy, Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg), puts in a good word for him with his nasty union rep (Eric Lange), he is let back in. . . but only for a few days and if a union-approved rep goes with him on his sanctioned kills.

Naturally, the rep that Bud gets is the impossibly nerdy Seth (Dave Franco) who knows everything there is about vampires, but has never had field experience. Meanwhile, trying to take over the Valley and fill it with her fanged brethren, is real estate mogul Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza). As Bud is attempting to wipe out as many neck-biters as possible to get some money, his unorthodox and gung-ho methods make Seth very nervous and uneasy. To get more kills, they take a trip to Simi Valley and meet up with the legendary Nazarian brothers (Steve Howery & Scott Adkins), and clean out a hive in spectacular fashion.

Unfortunately, during Bud’s earlier vampire hunts, he took out Audrey’s elderly mother, and now she wants revenge! Cue a nice chase scene that takes place in the same Chatsworth storm wash where the Terminator was chased in Terminator 2. After Audrey grabs Bud’s wife & daughter and plans to turn them, it’s up to Bud and his friends to crash the abandoned mall lair and stop her. With a crazy, blood-soaked, and often humourous screenplay by first-timer Tyler Tice and Shay Hatten (Army of the Dead, John Wick 3), this exclusive Netflix movie follows the same ticks as other vampire films, but with a few new features not seen before.

Foxx is terrific as Bud, a seasoned vampire hunter with a great dead-pan sense of humor that, next to Franco’s whiny, over-the-top cartoonish Seth, is perfect. And seeing Snoop Dogg as a cooler-than-thou vampire scout is icing on the cake. An impressive role that is way too short is Heather (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who later turns into a kick-ass vampire/superhero. She could easily have a spin-off movie of her own. But more impressive is actor/stuntman J. J. Perry. This marks his debut as a film director and, by golly, he does one helluva job! I guess decades of seeing movies being filmed and you pick up on a few things.

Using drones, crane shots, and lots of Panaflex hand-held, you can see the obvious work going into this movie, mostly because of all the amazing, eye-popping stunt work, and there is tons of it. Hey, the director is a professional stuntman, what did you expect? Okay, so the script has plot holes a’plenty and even delivers a Chekhov’s gun that has no payoff, but if you just go with the flow and enjoy all the nuttiness, the extreme violence, and the outrageous vampire kills, you’ll probably get a kick outta this. 

**Now streaming only on Netflix

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