Sunday, October 27, 2019

Saving You, Saving Me – review

Directors: Tina Jetter*

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

*The IMDb page shows the film to have been co-directed between Tina Jetter and Marc I. Daniels, the film credits listed Jetter only.

I have said a few times that often it would be better to ensure a divide between artists responsible for films. Though there are actor/directors who work very well, too often if a person writes the screenplay and directs and stars in a film there is no creative check and balance. No voice of critique. In this case, unfortunately, the film comes across as a wish fulfilment fantasy for Tina Jetter and it leaves the checks and balances by the door.

Not that this is totally flawed, as I’ll mention later there are positives and we will look at those as well as the negatives.

The opening sequence is black and white as we hear the parents of Amber (played young by Meeah Bryant and played older by Tina Jetter) talking, arguing might be a better description. As Amber cowers in the back ground we hear much about a prophecy, a ritual, a way to keep her safe until she is 21 and her building in power. We hear that “the Scandals” will want her. Cutting forward 14 years, and into colour, Amber gets a messenger message from Brandon (Taylor Cowan) saying its over. Amber says that she has a purpose.

Tina Jetter as Amber
So, we cut to Ruth (Cassandra Ogbozor) in a car with Brandon and he’s not happy that 1) she mentions Amber and 2) she tries to smoke in his car. Later Ruth, Claudia (Katie Butler Major) and Natalie (Nicole Simone Backus) are making plans to get Amber when Brandon stumbles in. When Ruth tries to light a cigarette, he punches her with some force and then asks the other two about the plan. This ‘gang’ are problematic, despite a plot important aspect. Accepting that they would want to physically get Amber just because she became boy obsessed and ignored them takes a leap, and his involvement (both because he dumped her, and because he attacked Ruth but they still work with him) seems less than believable. The eventual coda of the gang – Brandon attacking Ruth and her shooting him – is not a spoiler as it has no plot significance whatsoever and seems superfluous.

back as a 'force ghost'
Getting back to the plot Robert (Jon Reisch), a vampire, is with Tom (Connor Keegan Dosch) – who has just observed the deaths of his mortal parents (it sounds like). Robert sees Tom as his brother. He is called to the Boss (Marc I. Daniels, Vamperifica) who gives Robert an assignment, find Amber and train her – she will be the new boss as he is going to the Scandals. This makes little sense as he simply goes there, walks in and has his noggin knocked off. Robert will later tell Amber that the Boss was clairvoyant, and he says in this scene that is he doesn’t go to them, they will come to their base. As the Scandals want to destroy all over vampires (for reasons unexplored) then one wonders why they didn’t come anyway. Later the Boss will return like a red glowing force ghost.

Jon Reisch as Robert
Robert goes and finds Amber in a club, chats her up and dances with her. She refuses his further company, when he offers to walk her home, and subsequently gets chased down and then beaten by Ruth et al (until Robert shows up and rescues her). He takes her back to his where he suggests, when she comes round, that she looks in the mirror. Her irises are red. How did she turn? Was it the beating? Did she die? Did he turn her? The film is silent. He gives her some blood, convinces her that he is a vampire too, confesses that he was looking for her and they end up in bed (his first apparently – despite him having been turned for thirty years). He takes her off to be trained (cue unconvincing training montage) but the Scandals are on their trail.

So, I won’t spoil any more but it is fairly obvious that she’ll end up trying to convince the others to trust her and follow her – they were much more convinced than I was – and they’ll end up fighting the Scandals. There isn’t much lore given: they have red eyes when hungry (or angry), they drink blood but animal blood will do, they have fangs and are killed by beheading (though a post credit scene suggests they can survive this). Sunlight is not an issue and they appear in mirrors.

exterior shot
The thing is, so much of the narrative relied on shorthand and much of the film was held together by being a wish fulfilment fantasy rather than having a thought through plot. I did say not all was bad. Whilst the dialogue was unrealistic often the actual delivery thereof was earnest and sometimes quite well done. You could see that Jetter and Reisch were trying their damnedest and they actually generated some chemistry (that ham-fisted plotting threatened to overwhelm). There are some nice locations used and the photography was actually very well done.

the vampires
But the good bits don’t overcome the issues and what this desperately needed was a thorough script edit, with some major work done to it and Jetter choosing whether she wanted to star or direct but not both – perhaps in that way she would be able to divorce herself from the fact that she was way too close to it all and allow herself to shine. As it stands, I feel quite churlish giving this just 3.5 out of 10 but can’t allow myself to give it more.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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