Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Forbidden Girl – review

Director: Till Hastreiter

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

I came across this as someone posted about it on Facebook (my apologies, I can’t recall who and thus give you proper credit: EDIT - it was actually Jennifer Morton, thanks Jennifer). It was the first time I’d heard about the film and, more, it was said to be a vampire film.

I found the trailer – not much within that to give a vampire feel, to be honest, and it was suggested that perhaps it was “Vamp or Not?” fodder. No, to be fair this is definitely a vampire film (indeed there are three separate vampiric types). It is also a strange film that reminded me of several predecessors – all of a more arthouse/surreal bent – but I’ll get to them at the end of the review.

Roger Tebb as the Reverend
With an introduction talking about a bridge to eternity being created after 66 moon cycles one got the feeling that the number 6 was going to play a prominent part in the film (and it does). We meet Toby (Peter Gadiot). He kneels as his father, the Reverend McClift (Roger Tebb) demands of him, who is chosen through having the sign, that he denies love as it is forbidden to him – for him killing evil is doing good.

Kathy and Toby
6 hours later he has removed the handcuffs (used by his father to restrain him at night) and escaped to the graveyard where he is to meet Kathy (Jytte-Merle Böhrnsen), who wants him to come before sunrise. He finds her in a crypt – a picnic laid out. We actually see very little of this scene (more of it is revealed piecemeal through the film) and so they are not long together when something comes, out of a black, living shadow. Something fanged. 6 weeks later and his father is dead, killed in the crypt, the girl is missing and he only speaks of something he likens to a wolfman. He is committed.

the house
6 years on and a doctor (Jesse Inman, the Countess) releases him. He suggests Toby get a job and, as he helped tutor some of the other inmates, passes him a paper with an advert for a private tutor. Toby goes to the address, a big country house, and I was struck somewhat of the character of Victoria Winters in the 2012 version of Dark Shadows. As he approaches the barbed wire wrapped gates he seems to be followed by a man (Marc Bischoff) who appears less than substantial.

waking Lady Wallace
He gets to the house but no one heeds his call. The door is open and he finally gets to a room where the mistress of the house, Lady Wallace (Jeanette Hain), is in bed, hooked to pumps and machines and looking more like a corpse than a living person. His presence wakes her and brings in her servant/lover Mortimer (Klaus Tange) who accosts Toby – lifting him by the throat as he tries to explain that he has come about the advert. After Mortimer releases him Toby decides to leave but, outside, he sees Kathy on a balcony (later it is suggested that she cannot be exposed to sunlight).

beneath the sun and moon
He stays, of course, but the girl denies being Kathy and suggests she is called Laura. A girl who was found and looked after/adopted by Lady Wallace. Mortimer remains threatening and when Toby gets into a room with “the book” – a tome about witchcraft – he allows light into the house that not only burns the book to a crisp but seems to spur Lady Wallace out of her death bed – and younger and younger it seems. The semi-substantial man seems to be trying to warn Toby.

burnt by the cross
The film is incredibly stylised with some lovely imagery (like the house being reflected in a lake at night with the moon and as the camera pulls up the actual house is in daylight) but I expect you want to know about the vampires. Mortimer would seem to be a vampire – he is the creature from the beginning and although likened to a wolfman what we know is that he is strong, can produce fangs and can become black shadow or darkness that can move around the house. He can be burnt with a cross (and shies away from it) and suggests that only silver bullets would harm him.

becoming younger
At one-point Toby is spying on Lady Wallace and Mortimer, when blood from a cut drips onto her hand, which immediately becomes younger, ala Erzsébet Báthory. This, of course, is the second vampire type. Lady Wallace also embodies the third vampire type. She does become very young – and flirtatious – but this would seem to be temporary pending a specific sacrifice – she claims to be the oldest witch and thus is sort of a merging of witch and vampire. Expect no straight communication of lore, however, this is deliberately obscure and surreal in its delivery.

from the shadows
I mentioned films it reminded me of in tone, at the head, and whilst I can’t say it is necessarily as good as some of these there were overtones of La Maison Nucingen (around the surreal household) and Livid (especially when we meet lady Wallace). I was also very much reminded of A Virgin Among the Living Dead as well. That should give an idea about the sort of audience this is really pitched towards. This is one, I think, that will grow in cult status. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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