Sunday, January 14, 2007

Vampiros – review


Directed by: Eduardo Ortíz

Release Date: 2004

Contains spoilers

Vamprios is a Spanish language film hailing from Puerto Rico. It begins with the legend “Real love does not exist without pain,” and a conversation against a black screen about Gloria (Wanda Rovira). There is then a scene from some time in the near past involving, though it is difficult to tell, a love triangle where the two male protagonists are Cristian (Rolando D’Lugo) and Esteban (Elí Cay), though at this point we don’t know their names, which culminates in an attack and Cristian dying on the floor.

Padre turns Cristian in close up vaguenessEstaban is chased off by a vampire, we later discover to be the mysterious Padre (Johnny Ray), and he asks the dying man if he wants revenge. In a flurry of images, such as revolving masks (don’t ask, I think it was art for art’s sake), we see Padre turn Cristian and then search out Esteban. We find out much later that Padre turned both of them for his amusement.

Gloria feeds Jonathan to turn himJonathan (Jorge Dieppa) and his friend Miguel (Israel Lugo) go out to see the band Circo. There is some trouble with Jonathon’s ex-girlfriend but, to cut a long story short, he ends up meeting and going off with a girl he met, Gloria. Back at his place they end up in bed but before she goes she bites him and then cuts her breast and feeds him her blood.

When he awakens, it seems the next day but later it sounds like three days have passed, he goes to the bathroom. He sees a figure in the mirror, turns to see no one there andvictim in the library then doubles over in agony. He calls Miguel, who realises rather quickly that he is a vampire and, following a bit of a freak out, agrees to help him. The first stop is the library to try and get some information. Whilst Miguel is on a computer, Jonathan’s instincts take over. He stares at a girl who walks into the stacks. We see through his eyes, as he stalks her, and the effect is rather odd but effective. There is a scream and Jonathan has bitten her.

During the resultant confusion, Miguel gets him out of the library and they go to their friend Nelson (Kidnay Lugo), who works in a hospital, and persuade him to get some blood packs for Jonathan. It is then off into the night to find Gloria and find out how to reverse what has happened. Long story short, there is no reversal, Gloria did it because she loves him but seems to run hot and cold and Jonathan meets Cristian who is in a long running war with Esteban and persuades Cristian to help him.

Elí Cay as EstebanBy doing so he puts himself and his friends in the firing line between Cristian and Esteban. Most of what occurs seems to be for the amusement of Padre, oh and Esteban has a bit of a God complex – believing himself to be the Messiah of the Kingdom of Vampires.

I don’t want to seem glib but the story did lurch around a lot and had no, to me, real focus. Is it about the Messiah of the vampires, is it about Jonathan adjusting – in fairness it is about both but a clear focus would have been nice.

The vampires seem constantly fanged and, when hungry or angry, their eyes become a cold, piercing blue. Wanda Rovira as GloriaThey cannot go out into the sun. Staking and fire seem to work. Jonathan is attacked and left for dead, thrown in a river, and it seems that a good draining might also do the trick. Holy symbols do not effect them, indeed both Gloria and Jonathan wear crosses and Esteban believes that vampires are God’s chosen people. They can move very quickly, there is at least one floating type effect and they can sense each other near.

One of the biggest problems with the film was lighting (as evidenced in the screenshots). It was very dark in places, though rarely so dark that it was absolutely painful, just consistently irksome. That said there is a scene when Jonathan and Cristian are captured which did drop to the point of too dark and really did annoy. Perhaps this was for the best, the fights lacked a certain something – though it was nice to not have the vampires become martial arts experts all of a sudden.

Jorge Dieppa as JonathanThe acting wasn’t bad and yet you never seemed to know the characters so well that you developed sympathy for them. Both Esteban and Padre speak of Gloria loving Jonathan and yet she seemed to treat him with a cold distance but then would show up to help him. We are never really sure of her motivation.

Some of the scenes were fairly pointless. There is a moment where Jonathan’s ex is almost raped by her new boyfriend and then they are both attacked by vampires – I didn’t see the point of the scene. There is another scene where Jonathan is left for dead and then found by voodoo practitioners who take his body to make themselves immortal. They are killed by Padre who then revives him but the scene lacked point again – Padre could have just found him and revived him and the voodoo bit seemed superfluous.

The soundtrack fit well but, and this is a personal dislike, I really am not interested in having subtitles of the song lyrics on screen – just the dialogue is fine.

There is nothing terribly wrong was this film but, unfortunately, nothing to make it shine either. The ending itself was more a damp squib and combine that with the lighting issues, plus the lacklustre fights, and I think that this falls just below average. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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