Saturday, August 11, 2012

Always from Darkness – review

Directors: Matt Brooks & Phil Thomas

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

This is a film that is on the Extreme Vampires set but I actually have this as a standalone DVD as well and it is a shame that the distributors of the stand-alone (R-squared films) managed to get the blurb wrong by talking about main character Jude (Kevin M. Costello) and his sister Amy… actually Leslie (Alicia Tansey) is his sister, Amy (Erika Rainey) is Leslie’s best friend. Careless…

And careless sums up the issues I had with the film, carless mistakes and it is a shame as I really desperately wanted to rate the movie. I was rather taken by the natural chemistry between the two leads but it wasn’t enough to save the movie. However, I get ahead of myself.

Danielle Paccione as Anastasia
It starts off with Jude typing, his voiceover gives us the background to the story as he commits the events to a word doc. He had split with his girlfriend (he was dumped, in fact) and was depressed. He was looking at photos of her when he heard a knock at the door. Heading downstairs he finds no one about. Leslie phones him and she is heading home (they share the house as their mom has recently passed on). He falls asleep on the couch and is woken by a strange noise, just as Leslie comes home (and didn’t hear the noise). The new neighbours (known as three’s company) are mentioned and she teases him about going over.

haunted by the vampire
The house is dark, the film’s lighting is bad (and this is a constant factor, things getting lost in the darker shots) and a topless woman climbs the stairs. She has fangs. She leans over the bed and Jude awakens from the dream – believing that he can feel a presence. It is 2:30 AM but he feels an urge to investigate. He wanders out of the house and meets Anastasia (Danielle Paccione), one of the new neighbours, who invits him over for a drink. Whilst in her home he sees a picture, her great-grandfather Eddie she says, and it is a dead ringer for Jude. She invites him to a club the next night and he agrees to go.

Anastasia and Jude
The next night, before picking Jude up, Anastasia goes to meet with a group of vampires headed by Ranaj (Robert Rudolph). He is Anastasia’s master and she asks permission to turn Jude. Permission should be refused as she has only been undead 93 years (and a vampire has to reach 100 to be allowed to turn a human) but Ranaj grants permission – clearly to the disgust of another vampire called Delilah (Kaitlin Chadwick). It turns out that Eddie was, in fact, Anastasia’s fiancé and he died in the Great War – a few days after Anastasia was turned (and thus when she stepped out with another man, as Delilah works out with delight).

under-used ghost
So… Anastasia bites Jude and leaves him to turn (she cuts off contact after biting him as that is the vampire way, he must feed alone for the first time), Delilah dislikes Anastasia and wants to do her harm and there is a ghost… The ghost is a young girl (Veronika Spizzirri) who was Anastasia’s first victim and who, at the very most, leaves a doll around the place and warns Leslie that he (Jude) can’t be allowed to feed. This sparse use of the spectre was frustrating as so much more could have been done with her. Indeed the story actually is incredibly simplistic and rather thin as a result. The talk of rogue vampires, the hints of a complex society and other supernatural elements are dangled before the viewer but never exploited.

Evan's chin - bad framing
The lighting I have mentioned. Other carless problems came in the form of the sound, which was terrible in some places for instance in the club – that was more like a bar that served meals than it was a club – you could barely hear dialogue and some of the framing of shots was terrible. Jude talking to a vampire called Evan (Andrew Ely) was notable for the fact that you only got Evan’s chin in shot. That said, I liked the over exposed effect they did during the day that gave a sense of burning sunlight for our half-vampire. Other lore bits included garlic working as an apotropaic and stakes killing the undead.

blood spattered
The acting was generally nothing to write home about. Indeed the scenes with the vampires together (especially Anastasia and Ranaj) were very stagey. However there was a genuine chemistry between Jude and Anastasia that was infectious. Not infectious enough to rescue the film, however. It is a shame as the filmmakers might have always struggled with the lighting issues (given the budget) but could have sorted the sound and bad framing. They also had kernels of ideas that could have been expanded on and that would have raised the film up. As stands 3 out of 10, for the effort and for the chemistry.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: