Sunday, December 05, 2010

Blood + Roses – review

Director: Simon Aitken

Release Date: 2009

Contains spoilers

This isn’t the 1960 Roger Vadim film of the same name, nor is it a remake thereof. Just to underscore that, it has nothing of the Carmilla within it, rather it references, occasionally, Dracula.

Instead this is a British film, very character driven, that at time of review is available to watch streaming over at the homepage for a nominal entry fee of $2.99 – that gets you access to it for 3 days.  Is it worth a purchase though?

Mary faints
It begins with a man and woman. They kiss and she pushes the man, Seth (Benjamin Green), towards the bed and then strips for him. As she crawls across him, seductively, we see another woman, Mary (Axelle Carolyn), behind them, watching. She walks up behind the girl, the man grabbing her throat and inviting Mary to drink. She can’t bring herself to bite. He develops fangs and bites. Standing before Mary with blood at his mouth, she touches the red liquid and then faints.

breaking her neck
She wakes in his arms and he tells her that she has to feed. She is scared that he is angry with her and yet she can’t do it. Whenever she looks into their eyes she sees something. “The lion eats the lamb; that is the way of the world.” he tells her – offering a little in-script dig at Twilight. He isn’t angry, he repeats kissing her and then breaking her neck, he is just disappointed. The scene is interjected with images of Seth looking out over the city and we get a real sense of a predator, a killer with no remorse, but also someone searching for something – the way he places Mary’s corpse next to the victim is almost tender in a sociopathic kind of way.

arriving at the house
Jane (Maryisa Kay, Forest of the Damned) sleeps in a stationary car, she dreams of sex but it is clearly far from erotic and suggests rape. She bolts awake. Meanwhile her husband Martin (Kane John Scott) is changing the tire and cuts his hand. Their exchange indicates that all is not well. Indeed when they get to their house, and find the dead fox in the living room, we get more of a sense of this. (Incidentally the fox is treated as an omen and they are told it wasn’t there the day before when the house was checked).

Jane's pain
We see them in the shower together, he tries to get a mood going but she can’t be touched like that and tells him it is too soon. This makes him angry and, when there is a knock at the door that he suggests will be their friends Ted (Adam Bambrough) and Alice (Pamela Flanagan), he seems concerned that they’ll see what a freak Jane is. The filmmakers very quickly make us dislike Martin, he is selfish and misogynistic. In his conversation with Ted, he reveals to us that Jane was a model but is not working; she trades on her looks, they are vanishing day by day and he doesn’t know if he’ll like what is left behind.

the vampire revealed
That evening they go for a meal and Martin does try to apologise to Jane – though to the audience it sounds manipulative rather than genuine. Jane tunes out as she sees a couple nearby, Seth looks straight at her. When she comes around the table Seth was at is empty, she tells Martin that she needs some fresh air, goes outside and spies Seth at the side of the building with his victim. From an assumption of sex, to which she is the voyeur, she sees him for what he is, rushes back to the pub and makes Martin leave and go home.

vicious bite wound
At home Martin is angry (again) but there is a knock at the door. Despite her protests Martin answers and Seth kills him for his trouble. She wakes, next to the sleeping and very much alive and unharmed Martin, and goes downstairs. She sees Seth reflected behind her in a mirror (so reflections are fine). He comes to her and points out that she does nothing because she is dead inside and you can’t kill what is already dead – which I really liked as a turnaround of the normal trope. They kiss, in a Dracula reference he cuts his chest and feeds her and then bites her. She awakes in the morning, her neck a mess and the sun too bright – what will become of her and Martin and what secrets will reveal as the situation plays out?

clotted on her chin
I rather liked this, especially in what they did with vampirism. This isn’t clean and clinical – Jane’s neck is a real mess and that was fantastically done. Later we see her with blood at her mouth and it is clotted in places – bravo. The vampirism makes an individual fast, doors do not seem to be an issue and they heal quickly. Crosses and mirrors are not a problem. The vampire cannot eat mortal food (and yet can take a pill) and their hearing is sharp – becoming sharper after blood (even blood from a cut of meat has this effect). Sunlight is a killer.

Seth and Jane
Story wise this was fairly simple – however it wasn’t meant to be anything else as a complex story would have taken away from the main point, which was a character study of Jane raising her from victim to aggressor, meek to confident, dead to alive. Maryisa Kay gave a wide ranging performance and this is to be applauded and she and Benjamin Green had a definite chemistry. Kane John Scott built a solid performance as a man we disliked intensely – I will say that this caused us to not have any sympathy for him but I guess this was a deliberate direction.

Jane admonishes the victim
Unfortunately I was not enamoured with Adam Bambrough’s performance, which seemed mumbled and lacked the nuances needed. His on-screen appearances broke my suspension of disbelief, I'm afraid. I was also not so taken with a scene in which an, as yet, unfed Jane interrupts a rape but can’t bring herself to kill either the aggressor or the victim. I understood the multiple points being made (in respect of Jane) but they are in the wilds of Cornwall and, coincidentally, a man tries to rape a woman just in ear shot of a fledgling vampire… this seemed a little farfetched or overly convenient. I’d have bought the scene had it been city based, but not out in the country – though the location worked in the film’s favour otherwise. I’d humbly suggest that a brief establishing shot – perhaps in the pub the night before with the girl behind the bar and the man as a leery customer – might have helped.

These two criticisms aside, however, and I found myself engrossed, loving Jane’s plight and rebirth and adoring the visceral nature of vampirism. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Zahir Blue said...

Certainly sounds interesting...

Nicole Hadaway said...

Thanks Taliesin -- I'll have to look out for this one as it seems a bit artsy, which I like in vampire films.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi guys, I'd recommend giving it a go.