Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Nocturna (2015) – review

Director: Buz Alexander

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

Blame Anne Rice but New Orleans and vampires now seem inseparable and this is one that takes place in said city – as well as the bayou.

It is, of course, a great setting – though this could have been transplanted to any setting, the City relegated to being only a backdrop rather than a character in its own right.

forced suicide
It starts with establishing shots from the city, Mardi Gras, cemeteries and hoodoo shops that won’t feature in the film. A man, in a remote house in the bayou, is painting the teeth of a taxidermy gator. We see a child, Katherine (Olivia Renee Dupepe), run and he hears a noise. He searches his house, holding a gun, and sees a woman, Belinda (Estella Warren), singing Amazing Grace. A man, Mauricio (Billy Blair), grabs him and throws him. They are looking for their “daughter”. When they fail to find her Mauricio uses *the voice* on the man and has him shoot himself.

Cody and Harry
Harry (Mike Doyle) is a veteran detective. His Captain (Dane Rhodes, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) takes him to see newly promoted detective Roy Cody (Danny Agha) sparring in a boxing ring. Cody is the mayor’s nephew and Harry’s new partner. They get called out to the “suicide” and the uniformed cops have found a “parish kid” – Katherine. As far as Harry is concerned the death is an obvious suicide and as soon as he realises Katherine has a mark on her hand he wants to cut the child loose. Cody insists on taking her home.

Billy Blair as Mauricio
Home is not her home – that location is a secret we discover – but a large house in a no-go-zone parish. Cody insists on walking her to the house, which is filled with artily dressed people. Belinda and Mauricio are there and, when Cody looks to get all cop-like Mauricio uses the voice to bring him to his knees and put the gun in his own mouth. The vampire tells Cody to kill himself but he fights the voice and shoots Mauricio in the head instead. Meanwhile Harry, ordered by the Captain to get Cody out of there, has found himself “road blocked” by wolves.

vampire voguing?
The owner of the place, which is designated a club called Nocturna, is Brisbane (Johnathon Schaech, the Forsaken: Desert Vampires) and he orders the members of the Moldero clan out – the clan being those vampires who own Katherine. He is impressed that Cody resisted the voice and offers him a job – a 'work for us during the day and we’ll protect you at night' type of deal. Cody refuses, gets outside, collapses and Harry takes him to hospital.

confronted in hospital
The cover story is that Cody was robbed. Harry is leaving the hospital for the night, with an officer remaining on watch, when a woman enters kills the guard and lets Mauricio and his right hand man Carlo (Massimo Dobrovic) in through a window. Cody manages to get away and is rescued by Harry who takes him to the safest place he knows – a strip joint. That night they take Brisbane up on his offer. They are told that the Moldero’s are a diseased bloodline who cannot feed on adults. On the contrary Brsibane has a room of adult blood cows – all criminals who escaped mortal justice. Also in the mix is vampire Lydia (Mariana Paola Vicente), who had been a child slave of the Moldero’s (given she nursed in the Civil War, that was some time ago) and who falls for Harry. Brisbane wants to know where the Moldero’s sleep.

Mariana Paola Vicente as Lydia
So far so good, Harry’s wife (we discover) was killed by vampires and he discovers it was the Moldero’s, givimg him some extra motivation. The lore is a bit odd in this, however, and was perhaps one of the main weaknesses. There are interesting ideas such as “the starved” a room of desperate starved vampires that Moldero keeps – of course this is not a new concept but whilst the idea was fine the actual execution was pretty anticlimactic. The idea that they can’t feed on adults was strange but had a definite potential. Vampire blood can heal humans but Lydia is going to die as she gives Harry too much – it feels counter-intuitive that it is he who realises giving her a victim to drain will save her, not her.

blood tears
Once a human takes in enough vampire blood it imbues them with powers, including the voice – something Lydia doesn’t have, but Harry develops. As an aside, the fact that Cody’s immunity to the voice was not further explored was a mistake. Having had too much vampire blood, it sounds as though Harry will be addicted (cold turkey being comprised of the shakes, blindness and then death) and so needs Lydia. Later this shifts to her blood killing him anyway. Vampires burn in the sun but can survive immolation (it seems). Mauricio survives a head shot, which scatters his brains across the floor, but assault rifles can apparently kill a vampire. Beheading certainly works and an upset vampire cries blood tears. I assume the wolves were animal servants, there is no evidence given of shape shifting.

a parish kid
So, the story was ok but it became a little too obvious at times. It befuddles me how Brisbane couldn’t find the Moldero hideout when the cops do so in a day. The lore needed tidying, honing and properly articulating. That said it was a fair enough watch, a passing distraction for an hour and a half but was nothing special. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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