Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Temptation – review

Director: Catherine Taylor

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

I saw this at the 2009 Bram Stoker Film Festival. It was one of several vampire movies on and actually the only British movie showing. It was, unfortunately, the weakest of all the vampire films on at the festival bar Orlock the Vampire in 3D… and Orlock was less a film in its own right and more an act of vandalism of a great piece of cinema. As for this…

Well let's just say that it looked pretty enough, but the story was pretty darn middle of the road and the clichés came thick and fast, which can be okay sometimes, other than the fact that the acting let it down, I mean really let it down.

It begins with Issy (Caroline Haines) stood on a bridge overlooking the Thames, trying to summon the courage to kill herself. We can hear her thoughts in voice over. It has to be this way, everyone is gone and life will be a living Hell. Trouble is… I didn’t buy it. There was no projected emotion enough to make me consider this was a woman on the edge. Perhaps it was just too soap opera in delivery. Worse it might have actually been at Demons level. The credits role and time goes backwards.

Issy attacked
Two days before and Issy goes to a pub to meet her friends. Something has gone wrong between her and her boyfriend Simon (Alexander D’Andrea). She gets drunk, stumbles off on her own, vomits and then an illegal mini cab offers her a lift. As the driver (Jim Ford) starts becoming sexually aggressive in his language, she realises she hasn’t given him an address. He pulls over, the intent too clear. She manages to hit him and run but is caught. He is pulled from her and she asks for help. Her rescuer, Aurelie (Rachel Waters), comments that she doesn’t know what she is asking for but bites Issy anyway and then feeds her blood. She calls her Margot – yes, it is a "vampire’s lover returned through reincarnation" story.

Kylie witness to the aftermath
Issy dreams, it seems, of being in the bath, with blood up the walls, and Aurelie is there. When her sister Kylie (Laura Evans) comes into the bathroom she is alone, her makeup has run and her body is battered. She tells Kylie that she thinks she was raped but cannot remember properly. She refuses to tell the police or their mum (Faith Hanstaner).

the sun is too bright
Kylie is downstairs with her mum when her boyfriend Jason (Sammy Dodds) arrives. Then Issy comes downstairs to some sharp comments from mum about the evils of alcohol. She tries to drink something but is sick and then tries to leave for work but the sun is too bright and it hurts her. She retreats to her room and, having argued briefly with mum again, sleeps. During her sleep she heals.

That evening she gets ready to go out. Kylie is bemused, especially as Issy seems uninjured even though her blouse from the night before is stiff with blood. I was bemused as night hadn’t actually fallen and the evening sun seemed somewhat bright as Issy took the train, her eyes glowing red whilst she had psychic flashes. She buys some wine but it makes her heave and so she smashes the bottle.

Rachel Waters as Aurelie
A group of women are with Aurelie (yes it is a coven of female vampires) and they make their way to Temptation – a strip club… oh another cliché, except… there wasn’t a huge amount of stripping going on. It was actually more like a burlesque review club – which was interesting, but not capitalised upon. There is some argy-bargy as one of the girls has killed a man and simply dumped his body nearby. The police find it before it can be removed.

cops on the job
Anyway, short story (as there isn’t much to it) shorter. Simon gets dragged into this as he sees Issy outside Temptations, tries to say him kissing another woman was not cheating and then obsessively follows her like a mad stalker convinced she is pregnant and having an affair. The cops tie her mobile phone (lost in the mini cab) to her and the murder of the driver – then perform miracles by having DNA tests return within a day rather than months. Aurelie decides Issy’s family are in the way of her happiness and Issy is simply confused by it all.

staking of a human
She is a half vampire at that point, having not killed. She is possessed by a demon but still has her soul. A jab through the heart will kill a vampire in this, as will burning and sunlight. We actually see an over the top staking of a human – perhaps as a turn around of general lore. Interestingly Aurelie has kept the person who killed Margot alive as a half vampire and imprisoned between living and undead. This would have been an interesting story to follow but it is just a side moment.

Aurelie can move so fast her shadow is left behind, this seemed almost a nod to Nosferatu and in an interesting piece of set design the painting on a broken factory wall, of a clawed hand, was reminiscent of Nosferatu also.

hallucinated vampiric moment
The cliché moments I could live with and, despite the lack of overtly interesting and original story, this might have been a solid entry but two things let it down. Primarily the biggest disappointment was the acting. Uniformly soap opera and I didn’t buy some of the accents (though I might be being too harsh there). The other letdown was the lack of atmosphere. I remember watching a rather surreal sequence based around temptation and vampiric games, and thinking it was like a lite version of a Marilyn Manson video. I never bought Issy’s plight when she was attacked and there are hallucinated vampiric moments that seemed to be there for the sake of being weird.

Unfortunate. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Zahir Blue said...

Honestly, I wish some of these cliches would be turned on their head. For example, what if the beloved has been reincarnated in a different gender--and perhaps at the wrong age?

Myself I like how in the original Dark Shadows the reincarnation didn't actually exist--Barnabas was trying to brainwash a poor girl who just happened to look like Josette.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Yes, I understand that this was the case in the original Dark Shadows, though in the Revival we had slipped into full on reincarnation and Curtis used the same device in his version of Dracula.

In this, at least Issy denies the connection - though the film isn't strong enough to capitalise on that.