Sunday, June 10, 2007

Vamp or Not? Cold and Dark


Sometimes you watch a film and feel like weeping. Such is the case with Andrew Goth’s 2005 film Cold and Dark. You don’t want to weep because it is a bad film, but because it could have been a good film. Cold and Dark is well acted (by the primary leads at least), with some excellent direction and has an interesting premise… Yet something is very off.

The film follows Detective Sergeant John Dark (Luke Goss) who has recently been teamed up with Detective Inspector Mortimer Shade (Kevin Howarth). The start of the film, after seeing Dark burying someone alive – a scene from much later in the movie, sees Dark getting a commendation and then we see the run up of events that led to that commendation.

Kevin Howarth as Mortimer ShadeShade is a maverick cop, known to play outside the rules and alone, he works hard (both in the amount of work and the amount of beatings he hands out to villains) and dresses sharp. He is saddled with a partner and, against his request, gets Dark. Dark looks up to the man.

Luke Goss as John DarkThey are London coppers and it was here that one felt the film lost its grounding in reality. We are not sure of the unit they work for but they are investigating trafficking of illegal immigrants and carry guns. What version of London is this? As a rule cops in Britain do not carry guns, and those that do are in special armed response units and do not wander home with their piece in a shoulder holster. It is like the writer transported a little bit of US cop show mentality into England.

Shade is deadAnyway Shade and Dark raid a warehouse and get separated. When Dark gets there he finds a scene of devastation. Their suspects are dead, as are the illegal immigrants and so, it seems, is Shade. What actually occurred we never see, nor do we hear about. Above Shade's body is hung a corpse, which drips blood into Shade’s mouth. Suddenly Shade is up and about and the commendation Dark recieves is for getting a fellow cop out alive.

burning hostAs they leave the warehouse the corpse that was hung above Shade spontaneously catches fire. However, the bungled raid is enough to drag in Ernie ‘Einstein’ Stein (James Whale) – a local villain that they have been after for some time. Before they can interview him, Special Agent Albany (Carly Turnbull) has cut him loose. The pretext for this is because they never reported a burning body but the real reason is because Einstein has cut a deal to lead her Agency to bigger fish.

the first victimPeople connected with Einstein start dying, firstly his solicitor – who is mauled whilst cottaging. The bodies seem torn apart and they have been rapidly exsanguinated. Suspicion falls upon Dark and Shade, disgruntled coppers taking the law into their own hands. Yet it only seems to be Dark who is investigated and Albany, who is suspicious of Dark, still ends up bedding him.

grall revealedIf only they had concentrated on Shade! Eventually he reveals the truth to Dark - Shade is dead and brought back into a state of animation by some form of parasitic creature. He now has a hand that produces claws, has a slit in the palm that opens to reveal a worm like thing and a desire to drink blood - only of those who are villains, Shade assures his partner. At first Dark is complicit with Shade but when Shade kills an innocent they end up at odds, with Dark trying to stop him.

Matt Lucas as Dr ElginLater in the film we meet Dr Elgin (Matt Lucas) who is from a paranormal investigating unit. He reveals that Shade’s corpse has been reanimated by a Grall, a parasitic creature (at one point the term spectral parasite is mentioned) that burrows into the heart and brings the corpse back to life, changing the body for its own purpose.

The biggest problem with the film is that there is no coherent story, it seems to lurch around, characters do things for no decently explained reason and no background is offered that lets us see the rules of this alternate world. The ending is an unholy mess with zero cohesive meaning. Is it vamp though?

talonsWe have come across parasite vampires before. Parasite Positive has microscopic parasites with a world view that is realistic, however films such as Subhuman do have parasitic blood drinking worms hidden within the human body.

The possessed body is dead – but retains the hosts memories and personality - enhanced with a need to feed on blood, which is vampire like of course. Whilst sunlight is not an issue, once the parasite’s host has failed it combusts and this is reminiscent of vampire's burning in sunlight. The spread of the parasite is via blood, Shade can remember the feel of the previous host’s blood in his mouth.

The rules for killing are confused. Burial in salt is mentioned but doesn’t seem too effective. In the confused ending we get an equivalent of stake through the heart, by liposuction machine, though the why did he turn into that?film is unclear as to whether it was the staking, or the sucking of the fluids by the machine that is successful (in fact it is not even clear it is successful). That said, the parasite is in the heart so it would not be a leap of faith to think destroy the heart and destroy the parasite. During this sequence the shape of Shade changes into a wormy creature, just for a second but this is without logical reason or explanation.

The effects in the film have their ropey moments, one scene with the parasite looks so cgi that one wonders how they ever thought it would work. At other times they look quite good. It is lack of cohesive story that ruins this, and makes me want to weep as this could have been a great little film. All that aside I am content to mark this as vamp.

The imdb page is here.

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