Monday, November 06, 2006

I Pass for Human – review

DVD box

Directed by: Chris D

Release Date: 2004

Contains spoilers

This is an excellent independent film with a disturbing story. We begin with Jane (Eleanor Whitledge) going to the doctors (Mary Woronov) on behalf of her boyfriend Dax (Bryan Small). Dax was a recovering heroin addict, who has fallen of the wagon and been kicked of the methadone programme.

She tells the Doctor that he claims he has been seeing dead people, other junkies who have overdosed. Dax himself overdoses and, when Jane goes to his grave, she meets up with his sister, and fellow Junkie, Mila (Jennifer Ciesar). Mila mentions that talking to Azami (Eva Scott) had been freaking her out but Jane saw no-one, yet we saw her walk past a girl on the way to the grave.

Back at Jane’s apartment Mila snorts some drugs and leaves a line for Jane, she also suggests that she talks to Rick (Joshua Cox), who has lost someone to heroin. Jane, who never used drugs before, takes the line. We see her in bed and hear (but do not see) Dax talking to Azami, he tells her to be patient as Jane is on her way and accuses Azami of liking being this way.

Jane goes to the laundry room and then deeper into the bowels of the apartment. She sees a man painting, the light goes out and she is hit from behind, when the lights go on the man is gone. We discover that Jane has a wound on the back of her neck.

The next day Rick visits her but it becomes apparent that he too is a junkie and also seeing Azami. Jane leaves him and then returns and admits that she left because she was going to ask if he had any drugs, they end up shooting up together.

feedingThe basic premise of the vampires is that they are junkies who suck the life out of other junkies. At first one might wonder as to whether they are actually vampires, they are referred to at one point as ghosts. But Jane refers to them as leeches and once as vampires. Later in the film we see a feed and we also see Azami bear fangs. These are vampires, but the premise is unusual.

blood on the mouthsThe use of vampires as a metaphor for drug addiction is nothing new. That, however, is not what Chris D has done here. Rather the vampires are not a metaphor, they are junkies still eager for the high and stealing it (and the life) from others. The Doctor tells Jane that she had been a morphine addict and always felt as though someone was stood over her shoulder whenever she was going to take a hit. Azami’s ex-husband (John Diehl), himself an overdose victim, explains that an addict sits on the fence, on one side life and on the other death and you never know which way they will go, hence their ability to see the dead. The way the vampires are done means that there is no holy water, stake or cross solution – not that any of those are tried. The only way to stop the vampires is to become clean

decayed dead junkieThe two main vampires are Azami and Samantha (Iris Berry) and the filmmakers did awfully well at making these two seem otherworldly. This is one of the strengths of the film. There is very little in the way of special effects until, later, we see a decayed dead junky and because of this there is little chance of spoiling the film with bad effects – the film is primarily story driven.

licking blood from the puncture woundThe daytime shots were a little over-exposed, though that might have been deliberate, and it was nice to watch an independent film that kept everything viewable at night. The soundtrack is excellent.

The main actors all do a good job but special mention to Whitledge as Jane as she makes her character one who carries our sympathy and this is down to her performance rather than the script. I wasn't too sure about the character Mila, but that was probably a testimony to Jennifer Ciesar's acting in that she made the character so dislikable.

bearing fangsIf the film has a weakness it is in the script. The story is excellent and the characters rightly amoral but the characterisation seemed a little weak. I couldn’t understand why Jane, a woman who had nursed an addict, would start taking drugs herself and the characterisation didn’t give me that insight. She does try to explain to the doctor but I didn’t necessarily buy it. This, however, was a minor quibble so long as you can suspend your disbelief and just accept that she has started down a drug use road.

it's beneath youThe film has a couple of shock moments, but they do not shock that much. A hand grabs Jane from beneath a seat when she is high at one point and I have mentioned the decaying junkie already. The true shock of the film is in the story and in the amorality of the characters. In truth, whilst it is clearly a supernatural film, the horror comes from something that is all too real in the world. There is also a lovely twist ending that spins your preconceptions and really makes you think about what you have watched… but I can say no more as I don’t want to spoil it.

All in all, a harrowing but excellent movie that I thoroughly enjoyed and I’m happy to give 7 out of 10 to.

The imdb page is here.


zombiepunk said...

at last, a film that you actually found worth the effort of sitting through. given the amount of tripe released nowadays on ALL fronts and in all genres I don't envy you sitting (or should that be sifting) through garbage to unearth a gem. I will look out for this film

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Zombiepunk, what can I say.. its a dirty job but someone's got to do it. lol