Saturday, June 14, 2008

Crimson – review


Director: Richard Poche

Release Date: 2007

Contains spoilers

You might recall that I reviewed a very short indie flick a little while ago entitled A Candle in the Dark. The film was interesting but flawed – however, for most involved, it was the first film.

Director Richard Poche returns with another vampire flick, having now tucked several films under his belt, and says himself, “I made a vampire movie in 2002 called ‘A Candle in the Dark.’ It was relatively successful sales wise but at the time I did not have the proper equipment or experience, truth be told. So this was an opportunity to right a past wrong.” As such I was expecting more from this, especially as the actors involved seemed to have more experience also.

The film, again, was short at just over an hour – but substantively longer than the earlier effort. It has righted some of the wrongs that Poche mentions but, it is not perfect yet.

Rosa and SammiWe begin with two women, Rosa (Jade Taylor) and Sammi (Stuart Brazell), sat at a camp fire. The dialogue makes it clear that something has happened and they can’t go back – though Rosa has doubts about their choice. Sammi wants to lay low and believes that *it* wasn’t murder as you can’t murder the dead. Something is wrong, a voice speaks from the dark and they are attacked by a woman called Rachel (Erika Smith) – a woman with fangs. Rosa falls to her and Sammi runs.

The first real technical problem is here and it plagues the film – inconsistent sound levels. The music is substantially louder than the dialogue levels and so we are playing a game of turn volume up, turn volume down. Some of the sound effects are also higher in the mix. This is born, I am sure, of the indie nature and should be easily fixed (I assume, I know little of the technicalities). It was also annoying that some of the dialogue was louder than other parts (in the same scene) and smacked of a microphone not aligned properly.

the girlsIn student accommodation live four student nurses: Amy (Leesel Boulware), Katie (Sarah McKay), Jodie (Elizabeth Di Prinzo) and Carla (Jaimi Page). Amy is rather caring, Katie is kind of caring but less so than Amy, Carla is a bitch and borderline alcoholic. Jodie is a recovering junky, she handled the stress of her course with pills, was caught by the college and given one last chance – she is in withdrawal. Katie, to a degree, is caring for her but Amy is really looking out for her. Carla wants her gone.

This was a nice thing about the film, Poche really draws characters here. The acting isn’t consistently brilliant but it is always passable – experience is an issue here I am sure despite this not being the actors’ first gig. I was mostly taken by Di Prinzo who clearly had the most challenging role and I really rated her performance. The dialogue mostly works – like Candle it can be a little talky – but occasionally seems a little forced and even stagy.

Rosa awakens as a vampireAnyway, the girls go out for the night – without Jody who vanishes – and on there way home they find Jody trying to score. Meanwhile Rosa has awakened and she is hungry – Rachel wants to get Sammi who will be Rosa’s first kill. It seems Sammi and Rosa killed off all her infected followers. They attack Sammi, Rosa biting her erstwhile friend. The student nurses hear a scream and investigate – though Carla is against it. They find Sammi bloodied and bitten, on the ground.

Rachel and RosaWe have seen Carla lose her cell phone and another is knocked away by Sammy as they try and help her. They decide to take her home to clean her wounds then call the cops. When home the phone is out (Carla forgot to pay the bill) and they have no cell phone they can use. Sammi admits that she is on the run from a cult. With two vampires outside and Sammi turning inside it seems the girls are in big trouble.

treating SammiThe main problems with the film come in here. One was I didn’t buy the motivation for keep leaving the house. They try and use a payphone, but Katie is attacked. Okay, not too bad. Carla leaving the house, drunk, to try and sell Sammi out seemed more unlikely (especially as she believes in vampires at that point) but then trying to sneak past on the assumption that the vampires are busy eating a friend… it didn’t gel that well, but stupid actions are a staple of horror film characters.

vampire visionThe biggest problem was in the lore. Sammi tells us that they aren’t vampires – they have a disease that is controlled by the ingestion of blood. However, the girls sprout either a maw of fangs (most) or the traditional two side fangs (Rachel). We see that the vampires see things in a different type of vision (we also see Rosa’s eyes glow when she awakens post turn also). They heal quickly and it seems that stabbing in the chest is the way to kill them (or biting them – which wasn’t clearly explained as a killing method. Was draining the solution there? The film does not say.) We get a funky moving patch on Sammi’s back (unexplained). The whole thing sounds vampiric to me and certainly more supernatural in origin than the effects of a disease.

Sammi left for undeadSammi claims that Rachel is contagious but the disease generally isn’t. She actually tells Jodie that she is not contagious. It seems that most infected are simply carriers – Rachel was something different, able to infect others. The problem with this is it leads to one big plot hole – and this is a spoiler for the end of the movie. One of the girls is stabbed and Sammi saves her by infecting her – which of course goes against everything we have previously been told.

a mouthful of teethThere could, of course, be an argument made to the effect that the characters did not know, but it is the same character who says that she is non-infectious and then purposefully turns another. If it is a case of character ignorance (which is unlikely as she wouldn’t have tried to infect another) or lying – it still amounts to a plot hole if that is not revealed in dialogue, I’m afraid.

I mentioned, in respect of Candle, that the lighting wasn’t good. In the main the lighting was a lot better but the final fight wasn’t well lit at all (to be fair it was set in the middle of nowhere) and it was frustrating to have the finale obscured because the shoot was just a tad too dark.

Rachel attacksAgain, I could see something nice within this. Characterisation, always a positive, similes with drug and alcohol abuse as well as the addictive nature of cults were all elements put in place. The story, however, needed tightening up and the lore needed explaining definitively or tightening up. These things are vitally important to the film and necessitate lowering the score. That said, I am actually quite taken with Poche’s film and hope he continues to make movies. This was a step up from Candle, most definitely, but the lore and plot hole leaves this at 3.5 out of 10.

The DVD can be purchased from the film’s website, which is here.

The imdb page is here.


swish said...

I found this movie via a trailer on youtube. I bought the movie thinking it might be my dream movie....a bunch of girls and some of them turning into vampires. I love the stuff. I wasn't a big fan of the weirdish fangs. I liked the movie but I was disappointed. I ended up fast forwarding to the "good parts". Not my dream movie but there was potential. It's just good to see more indie vampire movies. I scour ebay and horror websites for them.
I wanted to give you some praise. I come to the website everyday and I enjoy it greatly. Thanks for the great blogging.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Swish - many thanks for the praise (blushes).

Re Crimson, I did similar, stumbled across the film online and ordered the movie.

The film is flawed but, in the review, I hope I have concentrated to a degree on the good parts as I, like you, hope for more indie movies and, in this case, Poche should be encouraged to continue... he has made two vampire flicks so far and neither are perfect but there are good aspects. I hope he continues building on the good parts as eventually he will make something magnificant, I am sure