Monday, November 17, 2014

Kantemir – review

Director: Ben Samuels

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

I recently received a comment from olbas006 suggesting I check this movie out as there were hints of vampires. My thanks for the suggestion and I would say that the film contained more than just hints of vampires.

The film creeped in from nowhere, at the time of review having appeared on Swedish DVD, and is as notable for some of the actors involved – primarily Robert Englund and Diane Cary – as anything else. Indeed the film itself ends more than a little flat but we shall explore that as the review moves along.

Wendy and John
It starts (having seen a dog running through woods) with signs about missing dogs. A train stops and two passengers disembark. One, John (Robert Englund, Dance of the Dead), phones his daughter, telling her in the area and he is to perform in a play. The other, Wendy (Justine Griffiths), is also in the play and John rightly guesses she is to play Wanda – he is going to play her father, Peter.

The House
A van pulls up and they are collected by Brad (Stuart Stone, Bitten & Tales from the Cryptkeeper) who says he works for the director, Nicholas (Daniel Gadi). It transpires that he hasn’t met the director and is also a local actor who will be in the play. They drive to a country estate (after they pass through the gate it is chained and locked) and at the house they meet the other players; Rebecca (Diane Cary, Forever Knight), Lars (Sean Derry) and Allison (Alanna Janell), who seems excessively bitchy. The story of an acting troupe in France, who were in the country rehearsing and, as legend would have it, all died when the director bled them dry and fed on them, comes out

The Play
Allison is John’s ex-wife and we discover that he was a film actor that has been in and out of rehab and totally off the rails. He has been sober for three months and took the job because it was the only one that would touch him with a bargepole. Nick arrives and explains the characters (none of them have seen the script). As he does he has each touch an ornate book (the script) and they see their characters. John plays an abusive father and husband who was to marry his daughter off to royalty but she fell in love with a gypsy, to be played by Nick. Rebecca will play his wife, Allison a whore and the two men are two servants both loyal (perhaps homicidally) to John’s character.

Nick is a vampire
Nick takes their mobile phones away and the actors become subsumed within their roles, living the play. All, that is, bar John who can see what is happening but cannot seem to break the spell. So vampires… Well the play is a described as being cursed by blood and through blood it lives – so perhaps a vampiric play (that is, of course, a unique one). However, it is Nick who is our vampire. He was indeed the gypsy and his love’s father killed wife and daughter before being killed by Nick. Nick wrote their story as a play and came across an immortal hermit (Bingo O'Malley, Dead Time Stories). Nick asked to be able to spend eternity with Wanda and the creature grants him that.

the immortal hermit
The scene wasn’t too clear but it looked as though he projectile vomited blood at Nick, making him a creature like the hermit. He then cursed the play so that Nick would have to perform it, for real, over and over again and thus spend eternity with his love. He can produce fangs and we see him drink the blood of a dog. Later he admits that animal blood doesn’t satisfy like human blood and we see him cry a blood tear. He actually seeks death, for someone to break the cycle of the play (though why John didn’t just give the pair his blessing and be done with it was beyond me).

So it’s a very interesting idea but the film itself leaves much to be desired. Most of the characters are underdeveloped – bar John but as much as Englund tries he is pulling against a lack lustre screenplay that leaves the other characters at best two dimensional and an even more lack lustre direction that fails to develop any tension. A scene with Allison hunted down by a dog, for instance, just has no sense of tension. The character is a cardboard cut-out, so we don’t care about her and the film spends so much time flicking between the past and present versions of the attack that it forgets that this is meant to illicit fear, tension and violence.

4 out of 10 is probably generous, but I liked the idea if not the execution.

The imdb page is here.

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