Saturday, November 14, 2020

Dracula is not Dead – review

Director: Luizo Vega

Release date: 2020*

Contains spoilers

Viewed at the 2020 IVFAF (I have used the date as the release date therefore, as I have no evidence as to an earlier release). This is a really tough film to review as it is more a piece of performance art than a film with structured narrative. This is looking at fashion, influence, celebrity culture etc through the vampiric lens and to me it is a good lens to critique this through as the entire thing seems vampiric. Dare I say that if Voltaire were writing today then his 1764 statement that “We never heard a word of vampires in London, nor even at Paris. I confess that in both these cities there were stock-jobbers, brokers, and men of business, who sucked the blood of the people in broad daylight; but they were not dead, though corrupted. These true suckers lived not in cemeteries, but in very agreeable palaces”, would likely list influencers and celebrities as the corrupted sucking the very life out of society.


The film itself is set in Paris and takes the form of a live-feed, following Vlad Dracula through his last 24-hours of undeath – hosted by Vampyra and entitled Dracula is not Dead. The film’s conceit is that vampires are now out of the coffin, as it were, and Dracula is the world’s biggest influencer, Nosferatu a producer, and Dracula’s wife Lilith has made the cover of Vogue 1000 times. However, Dracula is dying and needs virgin blood to stave off death. It is a plot point lifted from Blood for Dracula, although the timescales are vastly tightened. The question, where in this Paris would one find a virgin?


Of course, Blood for Dracula was produced by Andy Warhol, who also, famously, said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Despite the longevity of vampires, this is still true of the fame most of the vampires in this could hope for and, to strengthen that, the film tells us that Dracula, Lilith and Nosferatu have created an art factory and this references Warhol’s The Factory. The film mentions lots of vampires from the media genre with their names slightly altered – be that Akash-A or Leztat, for example.


There is, however, not much storyline. It is glitzy, graphically well put together but reflects the world it critiques by having minimal narrative depth and, ultimately, projects as soulless – though perhaps deliberately so, aping its subject; both the narrative subject and the vampire itself. We get snippets of story – the most substantial being Dracula drinking of his (locked up) father, Dragon, to be able to go out into the sunlight as he chases down the last virgin in Paris, whilst she is stalked for deflowering by Van Helsing (and by rape, it appears). But this sequence, again, is naught but a series of well photographed images and interactions that are stretched for art's sake, and perhaps too stretched, but bereft of narrative.


That might be unfair, in that the lack of narrative speaks volumes in and of itself. It doesn’t make it easy to watch as a film. It is perhaps the natural progression of a metanarrative, wherein this film explains the world of celebrity, of fashion, of influencers, by failing to carry a traditional narrative forward. This looks beautiful but tells us nothing and in doing so tells us everything about its subject. Not easy, therefore, to score either, especially as although I like the conceit I was not enamoured of the execution. I think this looks beautiful, sounds fabulous, is very clever but it left me cold. I also recognise that others may not be left so cold, after all someone allows an influencer to influence. 5 out of 10.

At the time of writing there is no IMDb page.

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