Director: Jeff Frey
Release date: 1999
I was a little torn with this, despite the cover of the DVD showing a fang there isn’t a fang in sight in this film. In fact we are not in the realm of the supernatural at all. If anything this is a vampyre lifestyle film and yet there was an addiction element, as well as elements that seemed to play with genre standards, that led me towards reviewing this rather than giving it an ‘honourable mention’.
We start with a sleazy guitar accompanied with jazz vocals – it feels slightly lynchian – and then we get a view of the city and a voiceover, and the voiceover – by Julie Strain – just doesn’t fit, it doesn’t work for me and yet it peppers the film. It does tell us that Celia (Leslie Danon) was looking for a new place to live but what she got was a new life… so there you go.
Celia, wannabe rock goddess and secretary, turns up at a rather expansive looking house owned by Whitney (Monique Parent). The room she offers for rent is exceedingly cheap. Whitney’s boyfriend, Jim (Matt Bailey) wonders if her new roommate has a job or if she is another stray. He wants Whitney to stop and, later, is rudely inquisitive about Celia’s life.
Celia is looking for a catch and it is soon apparent. Whitney believes herself to be a vampire. She does not have supernatural powers, has no cape and doesn’t sleep in a coffin. However every six weeks she likes to drink blood and she likes her roommate to be her donor. Celia is asked to decide whether she wants to be. Eventually she refuses, Whitney is going on a business trip and Celia says she will have left by the time Whitney gets back.
Jim, unaware that this conversation has happened, tries to warn Celia and get her to back away. He tells her that Whitney used to be a junky and a self harmer but has replaced all that with a blood addiction – but she still has a problem. Celia’s dislike for Jim turns her away from her original decision and when Whitney returns home early, looking ill because she has not had her blood fix, she succumbs and allows Whitney to feed.
Whitney told her that a bond develops between donor and vampire. She also explains to her, after the feed, that blood turns her into a nymphomaniac and she is like a “sixteen year old in a Tijuana strip bar” – that is why Jim puts up with it, she thinks. Her and Jim get it on and yet, in her own room, a distracted Celia almost feels as though she is with them through her blood bond with Whitney.
The film then moves on with Celia becoming obsessed with Whitney, some lesbian action and betrayal (Celia steals from Whitney in order to rent a guitar for a band audition, meaning to get the jewellery back from the pawnbrokers before Whitney finds out but struggling as she lost her job). We are kind of in Single White Female territory, except Celia wants to be with Whitney rather than be Whitney, and the film attempts to draw a thriller atmosphere around us, except it isn’t that thrilling as it draws things out too long. Incidentally, I was rather taken with the track that played in Celia’s audition scene.
I mentioned that this plays with genre standards. Whilst Whitney is not undead she is addicted to blood, and becomes ill (psychosomatically) if she doesn’t get it. The film plays with the idea of the bond between vampire and victim (though very much the vampire is the victim in this). It plays with the sexual aspects of vampirism and the lesbian aspects of that. Celia actually, despite being the donor, starts drinking blood herself and thus it plays with the idea that vampirism can be transferred. Finally, most shots of Whitney have a band of light across her eyes and, whilst she has no eye mojo, this was obviously a nod to the great Bela Lugosi as Dracula.
All that said the film isn’t great, it lacks a certain tension. The performances are all acceptable (except for the annoying voice over) but I never felt any sympathy for any of the characters and thus didn’t really care for their peril or situation. The film begins to drag its feet and your eyes flicker toward the clock. I mentioned the voiceover and Julie Strain actually does appear at the end in a scene that was superfluous – the film should have ended in the climax blood drinking scene without tying the loose ends together because they were ultimately not important.
Disappointing. 3 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Director: Jeff Frey