Queen: The Awakening (2020)

The letter Q vexes me. Not only is it associated with one of the most batshit political conspiracies AND is a nightmare in Scrabble–seriously, how hard would it be replace the tile with “Qu” and save everyone the hassle–but in the entire first year of this blog I never got around to reviewing a movie that started with Q. But I’m here today to solve two of these problems! The first is that “QI” is a recognized word in the official Scrabble dictionary with the definition, “The vital force that in Chinese thought is inherent in all things,” in case your relatives call bullshit. The second is Queen: The Awakening, an low budget vampire movie that IMDB doesn’t recognize as existing. But it’s on Tubi and Letterboxd, so it counts!

The story is relatively simple, but buried under a lot of bullshit. Three vampire houses led by three powerful vamps–Solomon, Ka’Aurah, and Horus–are politically maneuvering around each other in anticipation of the awakening of their Queen and what may be the end of the world. Solomon is the main leader and has a bunch of schemes, but in the end he’s killed as the Queen disapproves of him. The rest is… a lot of interesting decisions. The movie starts with a vampire nun giving an interview, but the interviewer is never seen again and the nun is only in one other pointless scene. Solomon has a brother who he banished for… reasons; he’s set up to be important, but disappears around halfway through the movie. One of Solomon’s crimes is trying to bring back the Order of the Dragon, but we never fully find out what that is or why it’s bad. There’s a newborn vampire with the power to freeze time–something that scares there rest of the bloodsuckers, suggesting she might have been created by an elder–but that plot never goes anywhere. Solomon works with a gangster who hires a hitman who tries to kill the vampire leader, but the hitman is easily picked off and it becomes yeat another plot thread that went nowhere. The Queen–surprise, she’s a little girl–awakens off screen at some point and only has 3 or 4 scenes where most of the time she just sits there and does nothing. And don’t get me started on The Monster Project-level white contact lens that all the powerful vampires have that would make blending in with humans nearly impossible…

The whole thing feels like a Vampire: the Masquerade (or Vampire: the Requiem) campaign that the writers were playing for years and enjoyed so much that they tried turning it into a script. But there are too many pointless characters and plot threads! Hell, connecting scenes involving the same character don’t even flow well, feeling like recaps of game sessions strung along roughly in the order that the players encountered them. Then there are the nods to the World of Darkness: Cain was the first vampire, as it was widely acknowledged in Masquerade. When the elders (Antediluvians) wake up, it’s the end of days (Gehenna). And Requiem even has a covenant called Ordo Dracul that researches powers called Coils of the Dragon, marking it far too similar to the vague Order of the Dragon. Even the title sounds like a Vampire supplemental book! Then we have the blatant movie nod. It opens with an Interview with the Vampire? Plans get shaken when the Queen of the Damned wakes up? I see what you did there and if you were trying to hide it, you did a really bad job.

But not everything is bad. I appreciated that the cast was primarily black and Latino actors, bringing some much needed diversity to a predominately white monster genre. And I absolutely love Solomon. He’s the flashiest dresser and is one of the few characters wearing sunglasses most of the time to hide his unnatural contacts. I mean, eyes. He’s got gold teeth, a bitching undercut, a bunch of tattoos and… wait, hold up. Is that a Boo tattoo on the back of his hand? Like, from Super Mario? Oh my God, it is! I love it! Sure, the tension of any political scene he’s in is now ruined, but I appreciate Mr. Mario Colemenero’s aesthetic.

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