Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vampire Diary – review


Directed by: Mark James & Phil O’Shea

Release date: 2007

Contains spoilers

Sometimes a film comes out of nowhere and pow… straight in the kisser. This is one such film. Almost documentary style it could almost be said to be Man Bites Dog (1992) meets the Urban Gothic episode Vampirology. That feel of vampirology is fitting as the film does feature Keith-Lee Castle who played the vampire Rex in that episode (Castle also played Renfield in Lexx and Count Dracula in recent kids show Young Dracula – so he really isn’t a stranger to the genre).

The KindredThe film is set in the London vampire/Goth scene and filmmaker Holly (Morven Macbeth) is doing a documentary about ‘weekend vampires’. The group of friends she is basing this on call themselves the Kindred (a Vampire the Masquerade reference) and are Eddie (Keith-Lee Castle), Adam (Jamie King), Haze (Kate Sissons) and Brad (Justin McDonald). As she films them she realises that she, in turn, is being filmed by a mysterious woman.

Anna Walton as VickiThe use of the documentary, the woman’s – we soon discover to be Vicki (Anna Walton) – obsessive use of a video camera and Holly’s video diary means that much of the film is portrayed via hand held camera and it works really well that way, with different levels of quality and filmic techniques that enables the actual filmmakers to use digital equipment and for it to work as part of the film.

After the club the Kindred are round at Holly’s and, when Eddie comes in, so does Vicki. After all the others have left Vicki is still there. She has only just arrived in London and has nowhere to stay. Holly is going to throw the stranger out but then, in return for agreeing to be in her film, she allows Vicki to stay. That night we see footage of Vicky filming Holly asleep and then she goes out.

Morven Macbeth as HollyThe next night Holly takes Vicki to meets some ‘sangs’, vampire scene people who actually drink blood – rather than just dressing the part. Again Vicki sneaks out once Holly is in bed and we cut to camcorder footage of Vicki with blood on her mouth. The news, the next day, has a report that Eddie has been found murdered and we discover he was completely drained of blood. Haze suggests that Holly should find a real vampire to do her film on, convinced that they really exist.

Vicki and her bolt gunThe two girls become lovers, despite the fact that Holly was straight and Brad vanishes. Eventually Holly finds out that it was Vicki who killed Eddie and ends up helping her dispose of Brad’s body. Brad, however, was not dead and Vicki has to finish him with a bolt gun before they dump him in the Thames.

Vicki and HollyOne might wonder how Holly ends up complicit in this but as the film progresses we discover that she is really damaged goods. She had a boyfriend, became pregnant with a baby he did not want, lost the baby and the man. She used to cut herself as a child and hints that her childhood was far from happy. It is also clear that Vicki selected Holly, she uses her camera to meet people and select those she wants to meet.

We learn that Vicki’s mother, also a vampire (the hint being they are a separate species), would be visited by vampire males who would impregnate her and leave. Vicki’s earliest memory is of having her fangs (four of them) pulled. She has travelled the world, a transient looking for blood who left home because she was of a breeding age. In Spain she was raped by a male vampire and is pregnant – and so is feeding for two.

We can never be sure if she is a vampire or a psychopath. She certainly consumes a great deal of blood and her attacks are sometimes quite desperate. We see one attack in broad daylight in a supermarket car park. She tends to use a bolt gun (the same as used in abattoirs) to take her prey down – this she says is to cause the victim minimum suffering but strongly shows how she considers humanity no more than food stock.

Ouch!The film is incredibly visceral, the footage of the attack on Eddie is guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of any male viewer. It is a combination of the visceral nature, the documentary style and the almost Stockholm Syndrome reaction of those around Vicki that reminded me of Man Bites Dog – though as edgy as this is it could never touch the earlier film for sheer nastiness.

Trying to eat steakShe does not seem to be able to eat normal food - throwing up having tried steak - and there is a section that is quite silly, when the two girls, dressed as nurses and wearing blonde wigs, are raiding hospitals for blood. I say it is silly because it comes across as slightly botched and amateurish, but then again, in reality, it would be.

Bloody mouthActing wise the mainly young cast do really well but special mention must go to Anna Walton. A very beautiful young actress, she manages to give off an air of mystery and, at times, desperation that suits the role to a tee. She is the highlight of the film – which given the fact that she is the focus of the film is no bad thing. There is one moment when Brad is talking to her about blood drinking and tells her the ‘real’ vampires call it exchanging. Walton raises an eyebrow that says more than any dialogue could.

The soundtrack was wonderful – at least from my point of view. We are in the Gothic scene so tracks by such bands as the Fields of the Nephilim, NFD and Voices of Masada – to name but a few – really fit the mood and setting of the film well. That said it was just like looking at a track listing of my MP3 player!

Feeding on a vagrantWe see little of police activity, just things on TV including – eventually – a photo-fit of Vicki, but there was one aspect to this part of the story that was weak. We know the police are looking for her, through comments by those who know Holly but we wonder exactly why the police were not knocking on Holly’s door. That forces the viewer to make a step of separation from reality, slightly difficult as the film tries to be serious and realistic, and is perhaps in the vein of such modern serial killer works as American Psycho. The coda to the film is a little confused, but one feels deliberately so, trying to build an air of mystery.

A great little independent, which ties in the vampire scene with actual vampires. A trailer can be found here. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


spare said...

she is one of the most seductive vampire woman that I saw in a movie =X

Taliesin_ttlg said...

fair call