Friday, June 23, 2017

Cult of the Vampire – review

Director: Andrew MacKenzie

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

Perhaps, sometimes, I think too hard. It’s just, when I watched Cult of the Vampire I really felt there was a lot missing. For a start off the cult... Maybe that was an expectation thing as it was Hammer who introduced the concept of the cult of vampirism into the cinematic trope and there didn’t really seem to be one.

Oh yes, there was a controlling coven but I never felt cult… perhaps it needed more concentration on that aspect in the film? Then there was the narrative. It was there but one had to search it out… then there were character reactions that just seemed off beat… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

the band
We start with a band – later we discover they don’t have a name yet but they consist of drummer Nina (Jinny Lee Story), bass player Sadie (Christina Collard, Dracula the Impaler) and guitarist/vocalist Xandra (Iva Stelmak). We get images, in black and white, of Xandra stalked by the cloaked Kira (Sarah Himadeh) and Xandra getting her surf on, at night, in her street clothes.

in the cellar
The film cuts into flashbacks of Xandra and Kira and these are all in Black and White (in Paris). The modern day sees her with her band – a record producer interested just by hearing them from a corridor – and with her painter girlfriend Camille (Megan Porter). Xander lives, unbeknown to her friends, with her coven of vampires. They provide blood as killing is forbidden, due to the need for them to live secretive lives. Because of her fraternisation with humans she is grabbed and locked in a cellar for a few months.

Iva Stelmak as Xandra
Now here we get to motivation… The film built no expectation of the punishment and so no reason for the rebellion against rules the viewer did not know. This simply happens. We then get her being released following her punishment and she goes straight back to her girlfriend (persuading her not to hate her for vanishing), her band (again convincing them to leave their new band) and walks almost straight into a record deal (despite having fallen off the radar). The motivations of those who forgive her are underexplored and the reason that she disobeys the coven is not even touched on.

breaking the rules
That the coven follow her is a surprise in that she announces she’s buying a new guitar (so they knew what she was doing). The fact that main creepy stalker vampire Drago (Peter J. Morton) and his female vampire sidekicks go around killing (against the rules) and deliberately attack Camille also (causing Xandra to turn her to save her) does not attract unwanted coven leader attention. The voracious hunger of the fledgling vampire leaves a trail of bodies and the aftermath of this (coven or police) is not explored.

crosses don't work
It just felt that there was so much missing. I never felt any sense of authority from the vampires in authority and it felt very much like we were getting a lot of style over substance, but the style wasn’t really pulled off. The acting wasn’t great but I quite liked the soundtrack. As for lore we know that vampires get eye shine and fangs, sunlight kills them, we get a staking but it doesn’t appear to work and Xandra asks for a filter over her voice (but whether this is to enable it to be recorded is not mentioned). Crosses do nothing.

Unfortunately not the best. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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