Saturday, January 30, 2016

Katherine – review

Director: Charles W. Bailey

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

When a film is dedicated to one of its actors, who died shortly after the film was completed it seems, one feels a bit awkward in the review if that film were poor. Nevertheless this reviewer owes his loyalty to watchers of vampire films and not filmmakers.

So, with that opening, you have already got a flavour for what I think about the film but, whilst it was poor, there was an aspect to it I really liked and I will, of course, touch on that as I go. The film is also known as Carlos Dunn’s Katherine, Dunn being the writer, and is based on a short story “When Pedro Met Vanessa” by Dunn. You should note that the vimeo edition of the film has hard-coded Spanish subtitles.

I'm sorry,it's just bad
It starts in Mexico and vampire Senorita Landin (Tempast Wulf, the Vampire Diaries) wakes. She goes in to her kitchen and a confounding aspect of the film raises its ugly head. I’d already spotted bad cgi lava in a Mexico establishing shot, but really… a cgi victim hung up in the kitchen. Why not get an actor there, or hang the director up? Why not just a bag of blood in the fridge to establish her nature? This is poor and the cgi is a consistent problem in the film. When her eyes vamp that is cgi too and then she is killed by a vampire hunter.

a post-apocalyptic Gothic warrior
We get a potted history of the church’s war on vampirism, of them hiding its existence and working to wipe out the blasphemy. One of their agents is a loose cannon called Rooney (Michael Heggedus). Meanwhile in Miami, a woman, Sandra (Mel Heflin) approaches a distraught woman, Megan (Ashleigh Morghan), in a hotel corridor. Sandra tries to get her to go with her and eventually her eyes do a cgi flash and I assume the vampires have eye mojo as Megan follows her. We see another woman, Andrea (Christa Johnston), looking like a post-apocalyptic Gothic warrior coming from a lift. One wonders what the front desk made of it?

I'm turning cgi
In the hotel room Sandra talks to Megan. She holds her hand (cue bad cgi flames around the hand that indicate psychic connection) and discovers that the woman is distraught because she is dying of leukaemia but is also pregnant. Sandra makes her an offer, become like she is and she won’t die and her baby will be fine. The offer is quickly accepted and Sandra injects Megan with her blood – cue more awful cgi as she turns. Andrea bursts in and stakes Megan whilst Sandra escapes. This scene encapsulates the aspect I liked – but I’ll get to that momentarily.

night vision goggles
Before then we see Sandra in Nashville. She is hanging around a parking lot and is approached by a guy named David (Chris McCail). Getting in his car she attacks him but stops short of killing him. She realises she has taken too much, becomes concerned and gives him instructions to stay safe whilst his body replenishes the blood she has taken. At this point Andrea attacks and captures Sandra, taking her home for some torture before killing.

Michael Heggedus as Rooney
And that is it, the aspect I liked, the vampires are nice. Main vampire Katherine (Tina Grimm) actually spares a pair of rapist thugs later – on the understanding that they’ll change their ways! On the other hand the hunters – Rooney and Andrea – are sadistic torturers and killers. Rooney is out of the US due to his habit of leaving collateral damage but the church call him back for Katherine. He has to work with Andrea – so murders her and makes it look like an accident by blowing her up with dynamite! Rooney has a habit of referring to himself in third person.

we didn't start the fire...
The acting seemed poor but that might have been the fault of the dialogue or, more so, the pace of the film, which was turgid. Honestly there were sections (Katherine and soon to be new lover John Smith (Andrew Schaefer) talking in a bar) that could have been great character insight if the pace wasn’t like wading through thick mud. I have mentioned the cgi – from cgi crosses on the front of cars, to blood splatter, to the turning and the victim hanging up. It brought the film to its knees. Why Katherine’s nipple had to be pixilated was beyond me – honestly, just don’t rip her top down if it’s going to be an issue.

a cgi cross on a car
Lore wise I have mentioned the eye-mojo. Sandra’s ability to read people is gypsy not vampire in origin. Sunlight and staking are an issue and when staked they dust in a bad cgi moment. No holy items are used on vampires so we don’t know if that is an issue or not. They have a susceptibility to being drugged – be that by tranquiliser darts or just a chloroform cloth over the mush – which is an unusual weakness, I’ll give them that. Sandra ends up scarred through the torture she suffered but Katherine’s blood heals that (so why her own blood didn’t heal it is a logical faux pas).

Then there was the bright spark of the turnaround. This has been done before, of course, but these vampires (or Sandra and Katherine at least) were so nice it felt like a fresh idea. For that reason only the film struggles up to a 2 out of 10. It can be purchased or hired at Vimeo.

The imdb page is here.

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