Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Lake Vampire – review

Director: Carl Zitelmann

Release date: 2018

Contains spoilers

Hailing from Venezuela, El Vampiro del Lago is a feature directorial debut for Carl Zitelmann and rather impressive it is too. It is part police procedural, which concentrates on a serial killer (or killers) who believes himself to be a vampire… however it straddles that line between supernatural and serial killer with grace and draws the viewer into questioning, along with the characters, whether this is a sick individual or truly a vampire. The film also, through flashback, follows two related storylines and does this confidently.

Miguel Ángel Landa as Morales
The film starts with a radio broadcast about the discovery of a girl’s head and the belief that the murder is part of a satanic ritual. Sat in his home, retired police inspector Jeremias Morales (played older by Miguel Ángel Landa), turns off the radio and retrieves a tape recorder and box of tapes. He plays one and the voice speaks about blood having an exquisite taste and holding a power that even God fears.

book signing
Ernesto Navarro (Sócrates Serrano) tries to get into a house but the key doesn’t work. It is his old home but he is going through a divorce from wife Patricia (Carla Muller). He shouts her, saying he needs his books, and she tosses a box off the balcony. The books are for a bookstore signing but no one is there. Navarro’s book was a cult hit five years before and his agent has strong armed him the signing. A man, obscured in the shot to hide his face, comes in and holds out a copy of the book that Navarro signs.

Maria Antonieta Hidalgo as Zuleima
That night newspaper intern Zuleima (Maria Antonieta Hidalgo) brings back issues of a newspaper to Navarro’s small flat. She is the woman he had an affair with that lead to his divorce and he seems somewhat dismissive of her – if I had a complaint about the film it is that her character seems more a cipher and could have been developed more, though his treatment of her says much about his personality. He is going to write a book about the killer we heard about on the radio - dubbed the Southern Devil.

head in the morgue
Navarro goes to a shoreline where he meets Judge Yolanda Gomez (Julie Restifo). He has been summoned there and it is an active crime scene. The reason for contacting him was the fact that a lot of papers had been burnt there but surviving was his signature from a signed copy of his book (he never pieces that it was from the recent signing, he had signed many copies over the years). This is another Southern Devil attack, with a severed head at the scene but no body. Later, in the morgue, he finds out that the victim must have been exsanguinated prior to beheading. Navarro notices Morales talking to the judge and later goes to the retired policeman’s home.

Eduardo Gulino as Ortega
Morales is reluctant to talk to him but eventually ends up telling him the story of how he caught the Lake Vampire, Zacarias Ortega (Eduardo Gulino), whose crime’s modus operandi was the same as the Southern Devil. The film flips into flashback with a younger Morales (Abilio Torres) capturing the manic, almost wild-man, Ortega. Ortega, apparently, committed suicide after five years in jail but then more crimes occur with the same MO, although a priest (with a large black dog) is blamed. Morales investigation also leads to another blood-drinker from years before - could all three be the same man?

Ortega attacks Morales
There is lore in this – whether it is real or not is irrelevant to some degree. Ortega is described as being inhumanely strong and thoroughly evil. He claims to have discovered the perks of blood drinking by draining himself and drinking his own blood as he did. He also claims to have made a deal with the devil – this deal precludes suicide but, it is claimed, if the vampire is not buried in three days he might come back to life. Navarro’s investigation also leads him to satanic murderous rituals in videos on the darkweb.

at gunpoint
This is a mystery and I don’t want to spoil that – the biggest mystery being, is the new killer the same man and is supernatural agency at work? The film is beautifully shot, with confident scene framing and the flashbacks all feel authentic to their purported period. The acting is excellent throughout but special mention to Miguel Ángel Landa as the older Morales, who is simply superb. Definitely worth seeking out. 8 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US


Douglas said...

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Douglas said...

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Taliesin_ttlg said...

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