By Chris Lackner
They could have called the show Sarah the Vampire Vampire Slayer.
Most vampires are content with easy-target human prey â€“ they don’t go hunting their own. Most teens have their hands full just battling homework and raging hormones â€” they don’t have to contend with bloodlust too.
But Sarah Fox is no ordinary high school girl â€“ and no ordinary vampire either. Played by Ottawa-born actress Vanessa Morgan, Sarah is the fledgling vampire at the heart of the series My Babysitter’s A Vampire.
A safe horror vehicle for younger audiences, the show goes for laughs more often than it goes for the jugular. But Sarah and her monster-fighting pals Ethan (Matthew Knight) and Benny (Atticus Mitchell) will have their hands full in Season 2 of the series, which recently premiered in Canada. New episodes air Thursdays on Teletoon at 7:30 p.m.
â€œSince Sarah is transformed into a full vampire now, sheâ€™s dealing with a lot of emotions and all this strength that she never had before,â€ Morgan says recently of the new season. â€œWhen you become a vampire, your strength accelerates a lot â€“ so she’s dealing with even more cravings than before . . . but she’s trying to be a little more fun this season . . . I think I’m realizing this is who I am and I’m not changing â€“ there is no cure for now.â€
Clad in a summer dress, her pint-sized puppy Yoshi on her shoulder, the 20-year-old Morgan basks in the sun on a downtown Toronto patio. She doesn’t look like the newborn creature of the night she plays on TV. But she shares a sassy edge and tough-as-nails attitude with her vampire alter ego.
Sexual tension being a prerequisite for any good vampire yarn, Morgan lets on that Ethan and Sarah’s relationship will evolve this season.
â€œThis season their relationship definitely escalates,â€ she says. â€œThey become closer. I think feelings are going to be shown a little bit more and itâ€™s . . . going to progress into something more than just friends.â€
In the TV movie that inspired the series, Sarah was hired to babysit Ethanâ€™s sister because his parents didnâ€™t trust him. While every boy has had a crush on a babysitter, few are lucky enough to have those feelings returned. Of course, there is that whole â€œvampire thingâ€ complicating their budding romance.
Atticus Mitchell, who plays spell-caster Benny Weir, is also on hand to offer his two cents. Beyond Sarah contending with her powers, he says the prime threat this season is a secret, â€œbig badâ€ evil at work in the town â€“ the source of all things that go bump in the night. Symptoms of this ultimate foe’s presence will manifest themselves slowly â€“ including some serious trouble with a Mummy â€” before the ultimate reveal.
â€œEpisode by episode the threat level we’ve seen gets worse and worse,â€ Mitchell says. â€œThings keep getting more and more dangerous and we finally realize that maybe something bigger is at work here.â€
â€œBut nobody is a match for Sarah Fox,â€ Morgan chimes in with a cocky smile. â€œSarah is always the hero.â€
Morganâ€™s character as a family-friendly combination of Buffy and Blade, the half-vampire hunter of the undead portrayed by Wesley Snipes in the film series and comic book. But she has more in common with the latter.
â€œIt’s kind of like I’m against my own race,â€ she says. â€œI think it’s because I was turned into one against my will so I want to stop them â€“ I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. But it’s cool that I have the strength to fight them.â€
The crew’s greatest weapon is their wit â€“ not their wooden stakes or magical spells.
â€œ(The humour is) the biggest draw of the show,â€ Mitchell says. â€œYou have the horror factor, you have the action factor – but the comedy is the tie that brings in together.â€
Morgan said she pretty much handled her own stunts this season. â€œThere wasn’t anything too hard that I couldn’t handle.â€
She’s asked whether she could punch out anyone â€“ in real life or fiction? â€œYeah, in both situations,â€ she says deadpan, with only the hint of smile.
But not every threat can be countered with a punch. This season, the team must also contend with a notorious Vampire Council intent on meddling in their affairs.
â€œWe have this weird, uneasy relationship with them â€“ kind of this love/hate relationship,â€ Mitchell explains. â€œSometimes they’re like â€˜hey, you guys are swellâ€™ and other times it’s like â€˜we want to eat you.â€™â€
Morgan realizes her show is part of a wider vampire craze in pop culture â€“ from Twilight to True Blood (sheâ€™s a fan). So what’s with societyâ€™s overall fascination with vamps?
â€œThey’re usually pretty good looking . . . they don’t age . . .they have fun parties . . . â€ she suggests.
Much like his character in the show, Mitchell interrupts with a well-timed joke. â€œThey have sharp teeth, so they can eat well.â€
But underneath our love-in with the undead are some genuine fears. Morgan herself says she has experienced the supernatural firsthand.
â€œPeople obviously think I’m crazy, but I’ve seen ghosts before. Several times… Once in my house in California, there was a little boy standing at the end of the bed, and me and my sister saw him and we ran into the other room screaming.
â€œIn my house in Canada, I’ve seen three ghosts . . .. some people obviously think itâ€™s crazy or youâ€™re having a dream, but you know when you’re not dreaming?â€
As for Mitchell, the most heâ€™s experienced is a â€œhaunted vacuum cleanerâ€ that turns on by itself: â€œThere is something in there. I swear to God.â€
What about vamps? Could they be real. â€œSure – why not?â€ Morgan says â€” a little too quickly perhaps?
â€œI’m pretty sure something that could be defined as a vampire has lived,â€ Mitchell says. â€œLook at Vlad the Impaler, cannibalism, people bathing in blood.â€
The spookiest thing about Season 2 of My Babysitterâ€™s a Vampire?
â€œMy evil side might come out which might be the scariest thing,â€ Morgan says. But will that dark side be more the fictional Sarah or the real-life Vanessa?
â€œIt’s a combination,â€ she says with a mischievous smile
â€œI donâ€™t even know who I am talking to right now,â€ Mitchell jokes. â€œShe could leap across this table right now and tear my throat out.â€
Chris Lackner is a writer and media consultant with Holmes Creative Communications. His work as a journalist has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post and Montreal Gazette.