Monday, February 19, 2007

Angel of the Night – review


Directed by: Shaky González

Release Date: 1998

Contains spoilers

This Danish film obviously had some budget thrown at it but suffers through being much to derivative – mainly of Robert Rodriguez’ films – and in the English version awful dubbing. That said it did have some interesting vampire concepts thrown into it as well as an awful bat!

Let’s look at the dubbing first because it really did annoy me. The worst excesses of bad lip synching, flat, uninspired voice actors and poorly written dialogue – that may, of course, just be a sin in the dubbed version but many of the comments were cringe worthy, whatever language they’d been recorded in . The dubbing put me on edge with the movie in the first instance and I wish that DVD companies would consider that many of us would rather see the film in its original language with subtitles.

The film itself starts with a woman walking to her car, looking up and screaming. Cue credits.

Rebecca (Maria Stockholm) is visiting the country manor that she has inherited from her grandmother. With her are Rebecca’s boyfriend Mads (Tomas Villum Jensen) and her friend Charlotte (Mette Louise Holland). Rebecca is clutching a book of the occult, which belonged to her grandmother. It seems the deceased matriarch was a dabbler in the dark arts and member of a pro-vampire society. Rebecca tells the story of what happened to a priest named Rikard (Christian Grønvall).

Back in 1850 a vampire was haunting the land. After the mayor’s daughter is killed, the citizens demand action. A bishop says the only way to kill a vampire is for a holy man to expel his evil (a concept abandoned later) using a special dagger (which is actually an ornate stake). He is too old to go so sends Rikard. Rikard, the mayor and a smith hunt the creature, though Rikard is not too happy about it – wanting to remain with his wife and daughter. Erik Holmey as RicoThe vampire is in giant bat creature mode when we see it and manages to kill the mayor and the smith, Rikard is bitten but slays the beast, unfortunately becoming infected. He becomes Rico Moritz, vampire, and is alternately played by both Grønvall and Erik Holmey through the film. Rikard was Rebecca’s Great Grandfather.

criminal vampire slayersThe film follows this pattern, stories from Grandmother’s research causing flashback. There are two other main flashbacks. The first is about a group of criminals who are hunting Rico, with play of needing the ornate stake but also using common or garden stakes on the ‘lesser’ vampire servants. This tale was confused and seemed more of an excuse to homage Rodriguez then to write a cohesive story, indeed I couldn’t even figure out why the criminals were after the vampires.

Once this story is complete, Rebecca et al find a coffin, containing the skeleton of a large bat, in the cellar. Charlotte goes upstairs, followed by Mads after an argument with Rebecca. Here the story failed to be cohesive, the dynamics of the characters shifted with no rhyme or reason, leaving them nothing more than ciphers whose belief and opinion shifted as the filmmakers wanted to do something else.

hmmm... just a nibbleThe next flashback was interesting in a lore sense and was read by Charlotte and Mads. The lore aspect was the idea that Rico had to impregnate a woman, known as the chosen one, every so often and maintain his undeath with the blood of his offspring. In this case the chosen one is Marie (Karin Rørbeck), whom was hypnotized and then impregnated by Rico. Unfortunately the hypnotic amnesia starts wearing off and she starts to remember what happened to her. This is, of course, derivative of Rosemary’s Baby.

Marie receives help in the form of a priest who has a vision of her plight – over in Peru - and so flies over to help her, one wonders whether God couldn’t have found a protector nearby! Eventually she is caught by Rico and so she takes holy water (the story is interrupted by Charlotte wondering where this came from and Mads saying some pages are missing, the priest must have given it to her then!) and drinks it, causing the vampire’s baby to miscarry. It was through this misadventure that Rico ended up a bat skeleton.

he's behind youDown in the cellar Rebecca is possessed by vampire mist and performs a ritual to revive Rico. This involves reciting the 7 forgotten names – which aren’t too difficult to discover if you have access to the game Vampire the Masquerade as they are the clan names! She then uses extending spikes on the ritual stake (why would they be there?) to donate some blood. Rico is back… This is going to be a brief encounter, however, as there is only eight minutes of the film left!

I will mention that when Rebecca comes to her senses she hides in a stone coffin and calls for help, unheard as her boyfriend and friend are in the living room, with loud music on the stereo, having sex. Mads takes the biscuit for not only having sex with another woman whilst his girlfriend is in the house but for also lighting and smoking a cigarette whilst said woman is grinding on his groin! Rebecca must be the only woman in the world who, despite fighting for their lives, wouldn’t notice that her boyfriend’s trousers are inappropriately round his ankles!

Ivampire bite’ve mentioned some of the lore, other bits we get are that holy water works against vampires (as well as being a vampire baby abortion potion), crosses work if you have faith (and vampires can sense if you don’t have faith) and they cast no reflection. They can turn into (bad) bats and rats.

The film is annoying because it could have been really good. There was budget and some interesting ideas. If the filmmakers had made an effort to tighten the script and story rather than exerting the amazing amount of effort it took to be so derivative then we would have had a (potentially cult) classic on our hands.

A disappointing 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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