Monday, July 18, 2011

Desire of the Innocent Blood – review

Director: Sami Haavisto

Release date: 2002

Contains spoilers

Desire of the Innocent Blood is certainly a strange beast, hailing from Finland it is a black and white, silent movie with intercards. It clearly seeks, in look and feel, to harken back to an earlier age and yet it has the most obtrusive (in the main) electronic soundtrack that is absolutely incongruous with what the director seemed to be intending to do.

It begins in a graveyard and, during this section, the music seems to work, the electronic rhythm adding a pulsing heartbeat to proceedings as we see a hand break from a grave. The resultant raising FX doesn’t work too well as the hand emerges covered in earth and then the rest of the body emerges, sans such grassy coating, facing the gravestone. She stands, back to the camera and the grass and earth remains coated on the arm but nowhere else. It was nearly a good little sfx and it is a shame we could see through the smoke and mirrors. The girl proceeds to walk away, her gait unnatural and cumbersome.

Elise and Arthur
We see Arthur (Mika Vattulainen) and Elise (Ana Ciaran) walking together, as the scene wears on we realise that they are very much in love. The intercards contain pledges of their deep felt affections but the English seems cumbersome, it has to be said, and somewhat unnatural. They walk, sit by the sea and dance. It is an idyllic situation that culminates in Arthur giving Elise an engagement ring. The scene ends by cutting back to the risen corpse and, though we see her from behind, we know it is Elise – thus we know things are not going to end well.

Ana Ciaran as Elise
Elise and Arthur are at home, married. Elise’s tattoos seem idiosyncratic given the time portrayed – the house has candles rather than electric lights. Things are not well in paradise. Arthur ignores his wife, reading his book and failing in his husbandly duties. She feels that he should ask his father for part of his legacy now and it is revealed that she was a whore at the harbour. She arranges to go back there, leaving her husband to his books.

offered drink
Then we get an interminably long section in the Dead Mermaid’s Tavern that goes way beyond the length needed for establishing the scene. We get sailors (a moment of racially derogatory dialogue on the intercards, as well) and whores, with a priest (Jani Sotala) trying to save their souls. All this drags on and on until Elise arrives. The whores are unfriendly, perhaps even murderously, as she abandoned them for what she thought was a better life. One of her ex-customers seems ready to accept her back but she is drawn to a woman, Eleanor (Kirsi Vahomäki), in the back of the tavern who offers her a drink.

The drink is apparently drugged and she stumbles round the tavern, a sight that causes the whores and sailors to laugh uproariously, until she passes out. She awakens on a couch and the woman is there. She begins to touch Elise, who quickly succumbs to the seduction and there follows a genuinely erotic encounter that, of course, ends up with Eleanor revealing fangs and chowing down in a pretty darn bloody scene.

awake in coffin
There follows a funeral scene and I have followed this through to mention the fact that the scene of Elise awakening in her coffin is a great moment. Of course she returns home to Arthur – who has found another. Her movement and general demeanour is less like the vamp that Eleanor was and is more revenant like. She is lost and confused.

Lore wise we only get anything visually. Arthur has put her in a bath – why a bath and not a bed, we do not know – and he is entreated by his new woman to end Elise. This is achieved by mallet and stake and then the removal of her head. Despite a wobbly stake moment as the actress holds it to her bosom, this is actually quite a well done staking and beheading scene. There is a twist in the film that I won’t spoil.

The black and white hides a multitude of sins, one feels, and as such works. I didn’t mind the silent film affectation but the intercards at times were too frequent and wordy – and the language used was cumbersome. Some of the scenes dragged on – the tavern for instance – and the pacing was thus off. The film is short anyway at 74 minutes but shaving some more off would have been no bad thing.

Of course the entire premise is a little pretentious, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of pretention from time to time. Some genuinely good moments but some poor ones also. 5 out of 10.

At the time of review there is no imdb page.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

Yep, guys behind this indepent Blood Ceremony Films are amateurs and horror fans, they like Rollin, Franco and Hammer. Black-and-white probably helped this time.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Rose, for amateurs they did a lot right, more than some professionals manage, and the black and white most likely hid some sins.