Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Sanguinarian – review

Director: Analisa Ravella

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

There are times when films just look something special via the trailer. They have that je ne sais quoi, that indefinable something. Sometimes, however, it is definable... it is in the look or the dialogue, perhaps even the music.

When I looked at the trailer for the Sanguinarian I thought I knew what it was… The music caught my attention, but not as much as the look and the look paled next to the dialogue. Yet all in all, as I watched the actual film, this was so much more than the sum of those parts.

Gary Winterholler as Col. Payton
The film centres around Christoph (Charles Beal) a vampire who seems morose, less than happy with his lot in undeath and shattered by events from his past. He only really seems to have two friends Yale Thomas (Jade Jesser) and Colonel Payton (Gary Winterholler). These two occasionally drink with him in the bar that all the vampires seem to frequent.

Yale with a vampiress
The bar itself boasts a cornucopia of styles. The vampires seem to wear period costumes from their own eras, be it French aristocratic costumes or American Civil War uniforms. Yet there is an idiosyncrasy to it, for instance the image of the French wig and beauty spot coupled with a more fetish type dress creates a visual texture where the eye is constantly distracted by the canvas portrayed. I shall return to the look later but for now let me mention that we see, obscured behind screens, that much of the blood is drawn from fresh sources.

the tragedy of the suicidal vampire
As well as drinking together they rob the dead together, breaking open mausoleums to pry rings from lifeless fingers, steal houses together (for Yale and Payton at least, Christoph seems content with his tiny room) and Yale and Payton are often present at the aftermath of Christoph’s suicide attempts. We feel that his heart is not overly in it. As he slits his wrists or hangs himself we know it will not succeed. That said his heart is not overly enamoured with life either.

Evangeline and Christoph
Christoph has an enemy, and a powerful one, in the form of the vampire queen, Saccharin (Laura Mason), who resents his morose brooding. He also seems to acquire a hope in the form of Evangeline (Carly Latimore) a vampire who wishes to reach beyond his veil of gloom. I don’t really want to go into the story any further, except to say that it is almost secondary to the exploration of Christoph’s character and has an ending that makes us want to re-watch the film to re-evaluate all we saw, whilst keeping the final reveal in mind.

searching for answers
What I do want to talk about is the dialogue. The entire film is given a faux-Shakespearean dialogue that does many things. Some will find it pretentious, perhaps it is, and it certainly offers the film a stagy aspect. Yet it kept me, at least, intrigued and, at most, captivated. I also felt, especially when it came to Christoph and Charles Beal’s delivery, that it had an edge of William Burroughs. All the cast seem comfortable with the dialogue's style and it gives the film a unique identity and allows the dialogue to portray and betray much more than it would have done otherwise.

Christoph's room
Then there was the look. It was sumptuous and decayed in turns and had a graphic novel feel that suited the film and, in consort with the dialogue, lifted it above the mundane. However, I have to say that this was a film shot on a budget and as beautiful as the film is, sometimes that budget betrayed it – if only a little. It is quite difficult to put my finger on just how it did this and it did not spoil the film; perhaps only making me wish that they had an unlimited budget so that the full beauty of the filmmakers’ vision could have been painted on screen. Don’t get me wrong, though, this looked wonderful and some of the lighting was simply breathtaking – not praise often heaped onto more modern films, especially micro-budget films.

Saccharin breaks another heart
Finally I will touch on the lore. We get little in the way of lore; much is taken as read for these vampires. They need blood, too much acts like alcohol and they appear drunk, and they have permanent fangs. They sleep in coffins and apparently avoid sunlight as the film is night based. Heart damage kills them and, in the most intriguing aspect of the lore, we hear from a vampire named Ammiel (Larry Laverty, The Hamiltons) that vampire’s sire themselves.

Will you enjoy the film? This is a difficult one to answer. I really enjoyed the movie; the look, the soundtrack, the dialogue and the character exploration. I was left wanting to watch it again, immediately after it had finished. I also know that many people watching the film will dislike it; the film is a love it or hate it… for those that love it the Sanguinarian will become a fast favourite. 8 out of 10.

The film’s homepage page is here and the imdb page is here.


Dirgesinger said...

Wow, sounds interesting!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Dirgesinger, the film is currently doing the festivals - if you get the opportunity I'd recommend catching it.

Anonymous said...

Great review, can't wait to see the film!

Liz Brown said...

I had the joy of seeing this in Boise, Idaho at the red carpet screening. This is such an amazing movie, and I'm glad to hear such a great review!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers guys

Geoff J said...

Sounds good, I'll probably have to wait for the DVD. Worth mentioning they have their own twitter account, so any news of a release date should be easy to get.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers for the twitter mention Geoff

The Sanguinarian Film said...

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