Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Deadly Love – review

Director: Jorge Montesi

Release date: 1995

Contains spoilers

This was a made for TV movie and the main thing you can say it about it is… romance. We are talking Mills and Boon level, heart on the sleeve, made for the bored housewife drivel. And it generally is drivel, something that I state despite the fact that the general genre concept of the romantic vampire became old real fast and not because of it.

We begin with a photographer, Rebecca Barnes (Susan Dey), taking pictures of a statue. For some reason this reminds her of her lost love (Jean LeClerc) and we see a montage of her relationship with him. His watching her work – note that this scene looks contemporary, we’ll get back to that – them getting together, him sprouting fangs and biting her, her waking in a bed and him being gone, chasing after him and seeing him committing vampiric suicide by opening the curtains. It’s enough to make a woman weep and she does.

She speaks to her assistant, Elliott (Eric Peterson), and says that she will go to Paparazzi (a club). She is taking pictures in the club and sees one particular man. She shoots him a few times and then we see them walking outside together. She is unsure but he becomes sexually aggressive, forcing her into an alley and hitting her. She then seems to respond, take control and… fangs appear and she bites him. This is observed, at a distance, by a homeless guy.

The body is found in a dumpster – Rebecca has disguised the bite marks with a knife cut. Cops Sean O’Connor (Stephen McHattie) and his partner Poole (Julie Khaner) – who obviously is a minor character as she has no first name – decide that it is the work of a man or group of men, due to the manner of dumpage of the body and observe that it is the third attack with the same M.O. in six months. Their Captain, Sal Consentino (David Ferry), isn’t buying their theory that a serial killer is out there and won’t put them on the case full time.

They get a break three weeks later when Sean spots Rebecca’s photo of the man. He is holding a newspaper from the day he died and so Sean goes to one of her shows to ask whether she remembers him and does she have any more photos. Of course there are sparks – revealed in the fact that he keeps going back to her rather than by the actual performances, I’ll get to that too.

More bodies start appearing and, as one victim is a fundraiser for the mayor, the cops get the case full time. Of course evidence starts appearing that perhaps the killer is a woman… you know little things like lipstick on collars, the smell of perfume, long blonde hair on the scene, an eye witness (the homeless guy) who swears it was a woman though he couldn’t see her in detail. Honestly, these are the worst cops in the world. Surely such evidence was appearing earlier – could be a transvestite, suggests Sean – and what about other evidence?

Why does it take most of the length of the film for a medical examiner to realise there is saliva on the wounds? The saliva contains a protein that is unknown to medical science as it can change the structure of a cell… thus healing damage in seconds. Again, why does it take so long for the medical examiner to realise that the neck wounds are added to hide the bite marks – especially as one assumes they are post mortem?

Sean and Rebecca are out together when they are attacked. Sean is the only cop in the (movie) world who gets hit once and doesn’t get up, leaving her to take on the mugger with super strength and carry his insensible form to a taxi as though he was as light as a feather. Of course Sean starts getting suspicious – to the point that he starts reading vampire books, as these types of characters often do. The fact that the perfume is very distinctive and hasn’t been made for 100 years would kind of be a give away, for instance, but it does beg a question. There is an indication given that this is a long lived vampire but all the scenes at the beginning looked contemporary. Never mind, that sort of thing is irrelevant, after all, the film is only really about the love of the characters and asking the question, “can love survive between hunter and hunted?”

Drivel, really. As a cop show it is drivel and as a vampire genre piece it is drivel. Worse, as a romance it is drivel. This is the sort of world were everyone is impeccably dressed (even when they have slept in their clothes) and two dimensional… which is where this completely falls apart. There really isn’t any characterisation, these characters just are. They fall in love, we get no background (other than a dead vampire lover) we get no motivation… it is all assumed.

The character Elliot could have made this interesting as he is a student of vampirism who found Rebecca and is studying her and working for her and loves her… It would appear he loves her, at least, but he does very little… at the most he holds a gun at Sean until she tells him not to, and then all returns to status quo. The performances are hamstrung by this lack of characterisation and, as I intimated, there is a distinct lack of chemistry between the leads. I blame script and direction rather than performers.

Vampire lore is so sparse it is untrue, given this is a vampire film. Sunlight is deadly, there is the protein I mentioned, she is very strong and that is about it. She sleeps in a hidden room on a bed that I guess is the romance replacement for a coffin as she falls into a death like repose without the taboo of the casket to spoil the hearts and flowers melodrama.

I am not a big fan of taking the vampire in a purely romance direction, but that is not my concern with this. If you are going to go down that line then at least make it a good film. Do not cut corners in respect of the other genres you are flirting with (vampire and cop in this case) and make sure you have story, characterisation and something for your actors to get there teeth into. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


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