Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blood for Irina – review

Director: Chris Alexander

Release date: 2012

Contains spoiler

The blurb on the DVD suggests that this is a film “inspired by Herzog, Rollin and Franco” and that is a heady combination – as to how close the film actually got, well I’ll save that for the end of the review.

In the first instance, however, I have to say that Blood for Irina is an independent arthouse flick, virtually silent, concentrating on mood above story, is the thought of that turns your stomach and you like your vampires to be horror, action or even sparkle based… well just look away now…

motel sign
Still with me? Then we shall begin. The film itself begins with blood swirling in water as classical music plays. There are no titles for the longest time and the director certainly enjoyed lingering with shots. For a film that is only some 69 minutes long he doesn’t shy away from ponderous views, allowing the mood to infuse the viewer. Moving from the blood, the scene is replaced with a doll on the rocks of a waterfront. The influence of Rollin is apparent in the visuals and the music is replaced with an ambient drone.

Shauna Henry as Irina
We follow the end of days for the vampire Irina (Shauna Henry). She lives in room 31 of a rundown, dilapidated motel. At night she goes out looking for victims. Some she brings back, some she attacks in the streets. When they are brought back it is often a man (David Goodfellow), the owner of the motel we assume, who cleans up her mess. It is apparent that Irina is dying, the blood she takes, craves even, is often wasted as she brings it back up.

she is like me... lost
We see her past in flashback; the vampire (Jason Tannis) who – back then – seemed to be dying also, who turned her and, in turn, made her commit a heinous crime. In modern times we see a prostitute, Pink (Carrie Gemmell). Looking as though she abuses substances it is apparent that she and Irina orbit the same desperate planet. I said that it is virtually silent and the only dialogue that we get is overdub of thoughts and they are sparse (the first distinguishable words come in 18 minutes into the film). Irina says that she breathes blood and drinks blood. Of Pink she suggests that “she is like me – lost”.

blooded mouth
There is little lore given. Though Irina wears sunglasses after dark, I got no real sense that sunlight was an issue. Apparently vampires have a finite life and when they knowingly pass the “gift” on, sharing the blood, they die. However there is an indication that this need not be the case and that new vampires can be created through the act of feeding. When a body is found by the man, still moving, he stakes the victim. That said we only have our expectation that the victim was turning… a stick through the heart is just as effective against a human… and we do not know whether Irina would have survived if he had not been staked.

haunting the streets
What carries the film for me is the soundtrack, Chris Alexander has clearly worked on a budget but the ambient soundscape adds an impressive atmosphere to the film. The acting is all physical and Shauna Henry’s ethereal presence as she glides through the streets adds a lot to the atmosphere also. So; Herzog, Rollin and Franco? Frankly, with Herzog, no, I didn’t see it. His work might have inspired but left no telling mark. Franco a little but the Rollin influence shone from the screen.

That said this is not an easy film to watch, and whilst Chris Alexander has created an auteur vision, the translation to screen is not necessarily perfect. The budget constraints mentioned above won’t have helped but, more, the film perhaps needed a stronger narrative (though that narrative needn’t have been delivered vocally). However, it was a very good effort, though an effort that will be hated by those who like their movies a little less experimental but, perhaps, a vision that will garner a cult following also. 5 out of 10.

The IMDb page is here.

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