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Film / The Hamiltons

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What does it mean to be happy? To be content in the world around you? Mom used to say it was family. That family was the heart of everything, even existence. Without it, there's nothing. She would always have these simple answers that somehow would sound so brilliant. And then she died. My father died along with her. Shortly after that, my brother David had to sell the farm where we grew up. Now we're just trying to be an ordinary family. Trying to figure out where we fit in the world. And for me, I'm trying to figure out where I belong, right now in this exact moment.
Francis Hamilton's opening narration

The Hamiltons is a horror film directed by the Butcher Brothers.

In the aftermath of their parents' death, four siblings struggle to live on their own. They harbor some dark secrets, just one of which involves them, for unknown reasons, kidnapping people and keeping them in their basement before killing them. The youngest member of the family, depressed teen Francis, harbors doubts about his family's proclivities as he films himself and his siblings for a school project.

The Hamilton siblings are:

  • David, the twentysomething oldest brother who has become the head of the household by default. Level headed, he does his best to always put on a chipper face as he tries to keep his pack of younger siblings together and in check from their various vices. Also occasionally seen picking up and abducting male prostitutes.
  • Wendell and Darlene, twins who are way too close for comfort. Wendell is the school dropout bad boy with an air of both sexuality and menace, Darlene is a sarcastic goth who does a better job of hiding her psycho side and enjoys playing mind games with people.
  • Francis, the film's main character. A teen boy who's been depressed and mopey ever since the death of his parents several years earlier. He doesn't aid his family in abducting people and killing them, and sometimes tries to show some kindness towards the family captives while they're alive and stuck in the basement, but he doesn't do anything to stop his siblings either.

The central questions of the movie soon become: why are the Hamilton siblings abducting and murdering people? Will Francis find the strength to turn against the rest of his family? And what exactly is the mysterious, apparently monstrous "Lenny" that they're keeping down in the basement?

The film was released in 2006 and was part of the After Dark Horrorfest film festival.

A sequel, The Thompsons was released in 2012.

This film provides examples of:

  • Bait the Dog: This is the MO of Darlene. Francis recalls as a child she'd lock him in a closet for hours and then pretend to have "found" him, and would make him believe that's what actually happened. She also seems to be shielding her school friend Kitty from her twin Wendell, but really she's just saving Kitty for later, playing with the girl like a cat with a mouse while stringing her along.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: David for the most part is level-headed, kind, and accommodating to his siblings, but when he gets angry, watch out.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: David is the responsible oldest brother who is struggling to hold the family together (and apparently also struggling to deal with his sexuality), and he sometimes explosively lashes out about it. Then there are the Creepy Twins Wendell and Darlene. Wendell is obviously trouble, a bad boy with a violent history. Darlene is more subtle but no less nasty, preferring to play manipulative mind games with people. Lastly there's youngest brother Francis, who seems lost in depression since the death of his parents, and while he doesn't approve of or seem to take part in whatever his siblings are doing with kidnapping and killing people, notably doesn't stop them either.
  • Bound and Gagged: The victims in the basement are kept this way to prevent them from making any sort of noise that would call attention to themselves.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Wendell and Darlene have incestuous vibes right from the start, but it really jumps up a notch when Kitty, a friend of Darlene's from school, thinks that she's being clever by challenging the twins to kiss as a dare during a sleepover. She's taken aback (and perhaps intrigued) when it quickly turns into a violently passionate make out session between the twins.
  • Cannibal Clan: Sort of. The family are very human-like vampires (in this story, vampires are never human, and one doesn't turn into a vampire, instead vampires are a separate species entirely), and they have a habit of kidnapping people and then draining them of blood in their basement so they can store and feed off the blood. David tends to use male prostitutes as his victims of choice, while Wendell abducts a pair of girls traveling across the country. Darlene makes a "friend" at school named Kitty, and earns her trust, having Kitty over at the house multiple times before eventually killing her.
  • Coming of Age Story In a very dark way, the story becomes this. Especially when Francis finally embraces his nature as a vampire and feeds directly from someone for the first time. The family bonds afterwards, Francis starts to get over his fear/moral qualms about feeding on people, and when they move again they're now a much more cohesive group.
    Francis: We live with a disease. Mom used to say it was the one thing that kept us close. I always thought it would be the one thing that keeps us apart. But I was wrong, and everything you thought you knew about us was wrong. We live in the houses next to you. We work in the stores you shop at. Our kids play with your kids. We're just trying to be an ordinary family. Trying to figure out where we fit in, in the world. But we do need blood, and we need a lot of it. Preferably fresh, not frozen.
  • Creepy Basement: Where the Hamiltons keep their victims... and Lenny.
  • Creepy Twins: Wendell and Darlene. Wendell is a violent bad boy, Darlene a manipulator who plays mind games with people, and they give off incestuous vibes that turn out to be more than vibes.
    Francis: The twins. They've always been distant from the family. Wendell is the main reason why we move a lot. He just got out of jail for biting some guy's ear off in a Cheesy Chuck's pizza parlor up north. Darlene is just as mean but more refined. Like when we were kids, she used to lock me in the closet just to hear me scream, and hours later would let me out, pretending she was the one who saved me. And I always fell for it.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: David is the responsible one of the group while twins Wendell and Darlene are the ones always causing trouble. And then there's sad, moping, misfit teen Francis.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The film's pretty bloody but the actual onscreen violence is minimal.
  • Hemo Erotic: Wendell and Darlene have a vigorous, passionate session make out session while covered in the blood of Darlene's friend Kitty, after they finally feed on her.
  • Here We Go Again!: After relocating to a new town, the Hamiltons introduce themselves to their new neighbors as the Thompsons, implying that their way of living is going to start all over again.
  • Hope Spot: Francis finally finds the courage to rescue a weakened Samantha (ones of the two girls that Wendell abducted and brought home to be kept in the basement), from his family, and tries to carry her away from the house. Then her spilled blood finally causes his vampiric urges to manifest too strongly for him to repress or resist, and he eventually feeds on her, causing her to die.
  • Jerkass: Even taking into consideration that they're vampires who need blood to survive, Wendell and Darlene have few redeeming qualities.
  • Lima Syndrome: As opposed to the rest of the family, Francis clearly actually feels bad about what they do to people and forms a tentative bond with Samantha, a woman Wendell abducted and who is being held in the basement throughout the movie.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They can walk around in sunlight, for starters. Also, they were never human, being a different species entirely, and they age more or less the same way humans do.
  • Pet the Dog: Towards the end of the movie, with the family facing another hasty move to stay ahead of the authorities, the twins finally do things to genuinely help the family and show that they're not just about themselves.
    • Wendell works in cooperation with the others to get the family on the move. Earlier in the film he'd also apologized to the others for his temper and being the cause of them needing to move.
    • Darlene gently collects Lenny and keeps him calm as they pack up the house and go. She'd also been shown voluntarily spending time with Lenny and gently singing to him earlier in the film, and she plays with him in a friendly manner during the footage that plays during the closing credits.
  • Promoted to Parent: David finds himself with the responsibility of looking after the family after their parents' deaths.
  • Reluctant Monster: Francis hates being a vampire because it means killing and feeding on people. He tries to bond with Samantha, the latest person being held in the basement, and at least be kind to her and others. Near the end, he tries to help her escape, but is overcome by his vampiric urges and her blood and feeds on her.
    Francis: You keep telling yourself that things will change. That it's all a bad dream and one day you'll wake up. I just wish they would catch us, and then it'll all be over.
  • Resist the Beast: Francis has been resisting his vampiric urges, never feeding directly off people, only whatever blood the family has drained and stored. When he finally takes action to try to free Samantha, she been drained of so much blood that she's passing in and out of consciousness, and she was in the middle of David draining her to store her blood, so she's still bleeding. Francis manages to carry her away for awhile, but the presence of her blood starts effecting him. When she comes to, he tells her that she has to leave and he can't come over to her because of the blood, but she's too weak to move on her own. Eventually the need for blood overcomes Francis and he feeds off her.
  • Straight Gay: David is a normal guy in his 20s struggling to keep his world and family together who doesn't give any sign that he's gay except when he's seen picking up male prostitutes.
  • Technically Living Vampire: The titular family are all vampires of the Human Subspecies variety. In the film's world, the Hamiltons and any other vampires out there seem completely human, as they're born, mature, live, and die similar to humans, with the exception that they need to drink blood to survive. (Perhaps the main notable difference is that during their first few years vampire children are somewhat feral, craving blood all the time, and capable of ripping apart adult humans with their bare hands to get it. At least if Lenny is representative of vampire children as a whole and not just a result of his parents dying while he was a baby and then being raised by unprepared siblings.)
  • Tomato Surprise: The titular family know all along that they're vampires, but never speak directly about it, and it's only explicitly revealed to the audience in the last ten minutes of the movie.
  • Twincest: Wendell and Darlene are creepy twins who have a sexual relationship with each other.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows the very last shot of the film. Although it's only a spoiler in context.
  • Undead Child: Well, not really undead (as in the movie vampires are instead a separate, mostly humanlike species), but Lenny turns out to be a vampire child. He's the actual youngest Hamilton sibling, who their mom was pregnant with in the camcorder footage we see of them. Lenny is only a few years old, completely feral, and is craving blood all the time. And he's able to rip an adult apart to get it, if he hasn't been fed.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Villainous is a strong term for the situation, but after having killed for the first time, poor Francis can only helplessly weep over Samantha's body and say how much it hurts and how bad he feels. Fortunately David arrives to try to comfort him.
  • Wham Line: Just before Francis finally feeds on Samantha, he says the following line, and all the pieces fall into place and everything in the movie suddenly makes sense. Although for anyone who doesn't get it, the following scene where David rushes in and sees a weeping Francis with his fangs out and Samantha's blood all over his face will drive it home.
    Francis: [to Samantha] I can't come near you. You're bleeding. There's something I have to tell you... we're born, not made. Not like everybody thinks. Not like the fucking movies.
  • Wham Shot: David arrives at the building where Francis took Samantha. There's a woman's scream from inside that is quickly cut off. David rushes inside, and when he reaches Francis, Francis looks up, fangs in his mouth and Samantha's blood all over his face. Combined with the Wham Line above, it helps viewers to finally realize what has been going on in the movie all along.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Seeing the fact that Francis has empathy towards her and isn't hardened towards killing captives like the others, Samantha tries to get him to let her escape. However, despite all his dread of what the family does, he isn't willing to directly go against them and turn her loose. At one point, she directly calls him out over this, pointing out that she'll definitely be killed if Francis doesn't take some sort of action to help her.
    Samantha: Can I ask you something, Francis? [He nods] Why'd you bring me food?
    Francis: Because... I'm not one of them.
    Samantha: They're going to kill me, Francis.
    Francis: [dejectedly] I know.
    Samantha: All you have to do is call the police. My family has money, they'll give you anything you need. ... Francis, I have people who love me, who need me! I just want to go home! I want to see my family.