Bloodsucking Bastards is another office workplace comedy, with jokes that belong more to the 1990s than the 2010s, though the presence of flat-screen monitors and smartphones indicates a contemporary setting. Men don’t sport the demoralizingly staid ties and cheaply starched shirts that the characters wear in this film anymore, as corporations have adapted a disingenuous friendliness as a way of furthering their control over their employees’ lives. Wear whatever you like, as long as your wardrobe conforms vaguely to “office semi-casual.” In exchange for this perk, and for a few other equally meaningless baubles (such as calling your boss by their first name), you’re on call 24/7—a development that iPhones and their ilk have conditioned you not to mind, as you’re now effectively terrified of not being “on.”
This friendly corporate culture is ripe for brutal horror satirizing, but Bloodsucking Bastards is indebted to presently irrelevant comedies and TV series such as Office Space, Super Troopers, Dilbert, The Office, and even the recent but equally un-topical, if funnier, Workaholics. There’s an element of comfort to this datedness, which pretends that things like printers and fax machines still matter: These workaday stories present the audience with us-versus-the-man parables that revel in clearly drawn battle lines, which imply that we all aren’t essentially mice wandering a conformist labyrinth.
The film covers all the usual jokes of this subgenre. There’s an asshat, clearly modeled on Milton from Office Space, whose forever attempting to passive-aggressively collect on a betting pool that no one respects him enough to honor. The heroes are, expectedly, a pair that’s comprised of a hypocritically cowardly, earnest Dudley Do-Right and a slacker who wears his uselessness as a badge of honor. The new boss is an alpha dickhead. A ridiculed intern quickly disappears for the crime of having brown skin; complementing him is a black security officer, the funniest character in the film, who must, of course, die. There’s an attractive woman, who’d never be caught dead in this ugly, beige, fluorescent hell hole, and who’s inexplicably tied to Dudley Do-Right romantically. The specific political, practical contours of the office setting are entirely unimagined, because, lest we need reminding, this is the office of our pop-culturally nurtured fantasies: an Everyworld that doesn’t mean, symbolize, or reflect anything.
Yet, this is the rare American comedy that actually picks up steam as it progresses. The vampires’ arrival informs the film with a much-needed jolt of viciousness. The tossed-off jokes grow cumulatively amusing for their relentless, threadbare absurdity, as director Brian James O’Connell and his cast understand the secret of executing a decent, if derivative, office parody: The jokes can’t be delivered crisply, as they would be in most other strands of comedy. No, the punchlines must appear to barely limp across the figurative finish line, reflecting the sluggishness of the hopeless atmosphere and its denizens. The dialogue also grows stranger and more confident in the film’s second half. When a character refers to a vampire he recently killed, he says the creature is downstairs doing his impression of a Jackson Pollack painting. And the black dude has a way of calling one of the white brahs “Colonel Sanders,” with an element of arbitrariness that’s almost pointedly devoid of racial tension. (There are other, quieter touches, such as a slacker who does his hair up into a samurai-style man-bun with a paper clamp while preparing for battle with the undead.) Bloodsucking Bastards couldn’t be more disposable, but it evinces a qualified kind of courage in its anonymous convictions, parodying a world that barely ever existed by barely existing itself.