Monday, September 26, 2016

Blood Trap – review

Director: Alberto Sciamma

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

Appearing on Amazon’s VoD circuit this was a vampire film I hadn’t heard of before viewing – so I guess it kind of crept out of leftfield. It was filmed in Italy but is classed as a USA/UK production – however the Italian setting offers an air that is more in line with Euro-horror, even if the plot is essentially a take on Ten Little Indians.

The film also has an absurdist edge to it that works really quite well and adds something to a film that could have languished in mediocrity had that edge not been there. As it is, it plays around with the vampire tropes and leaves you thinking.

ready for retirement
It starts with Roman (Costas Mandylor, Immortally Yours) crawling along a corridor. He reaches for a gun and puts it to his head… Pop goes a Champagne cork and we see Roman, in his prison warden uniform, as his colleagues celebrate his retirement. Sat at home, with their gift of a zippo, he phones an ex-colleague called Boria (Gianni Capaldi). Boria was sacked for having his hand in the till (and likely served time).

Vinnie Jones as Big John
They discuss a scheme (it sounds like it is Roman’s plan) to kidnap and ransom Nika (Elena Mirela), the daughter of a mob boss. Boria has an idea for a crew – all of whom have been through Roman’s prison. There is Big John (Vinnie Jones, the Bleeding), Alec (Drew Kenney), and partners Santa (Denny Mendez) and Zita (Grazia Leone). In the early dawn they raid the house, killing two guards at a tunnel and entering through one of two basements.

about to shoot up
Nika is taking a bath (in a negligée and stockings) and, by the time that the gang get to her she is just about to shoot up some morphine. They bundle her into a body bag and head out – Alec pocketing her drugs and needles. However, as they leave shutters start coming down on the windows and the very tough doors lock. During this Big John tries to hold one of the shutters up but it slams down removing his fingers.

the rest of the gang
Cut to the kitchen and Nika being questioned about the shutters and how to open them. She is not forthcoming, suggesting they will open automatically at sunset. Mainly she asks for her drugs – a plea that Big John echoes as pain relief for his damaged hands. Roman shoots him – Vinnie Jones' part in the film was no more than a minor cameo. Essentially Nika gets loose – mainly to look for her drugs, which are the only thing that keeps her urges at bay. She is, after all, a vampire.

The plot then sees the villains trying to escape as they are picked off. We get surreal moments such as animalistic men in the (very narrow) sewer pipes – presumably victims now living an undead life in the sewers but never venturing beyond those areas (so we see little of them). There are frozen body parts in a walk-in freezer but the most interesting things happen around the vampire tropes. We can assume sunlight is an issue – hence the shutters and we see Nika get shot but survive whereas a turned criminal is shot repeatedly and eventually dies (we also see decapitation stop a turned vampire).

When they find a room full of babies and toddlers – with blood bags attached – the thought goes to them being a snack collection. Actually they are Nika’s babies and her 268-year role has been to be a brood mare for these vampire infants – though some are so human they cannot bite. We do, therefore, get a vampire baby biting some of the criminals. She also breeds with one of the blokes but she doesn’t use seduction, she simply forces a Viagra down his throat and waits for the drug to take effect and then rapes him. The gestation period for a vampire baby is incredibly fast, it would seem. When she loses control she ages into a crone and her physical appearance was a tad reminiscent of the Rec movies – the fact that Roman dons armour at one point was also reminiscent of Rec 3 – however this presentation of maiden (their first impression of her being the daughter of the mob boss), mother and crone was interesting in its own right.

Nika in crone mode
The film’s epilogue was deliberately strange but it is the strangeness that lifts the film above the very generic ten Little Indians plot. The past history between Roman and the rest of the gang wasn’t really exploited in any satisfying way. Gianni Capaldi really stole the show as Boria but relative newcomer Drew Kenney gave him a run for his money. The rest of the acting was ok – Jones’ pained character was perhaps overly melodramatic rather than realistic but he is in it so little that you could have blinked and missed it and he wasn’t really given the time to do much more with the character.

It is the strangeness that keeps this afloat and pushes it above average. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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