Thursday, October 24, 2013

Embrace of the Vampire (2013) – review

Director: Carl Bessai

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

The original Embrace of the Vampire was a rather disappointing film, known more for offering sight of Alyssa Milano’s boobs than for its vampiric content. Thus this remake did not have a lot to live up to.

In many respects, however, this is not really a remake. Other than the fact that it follows a sexually inactive/repressed girl called Charlotte (Sharon Hinnendael) attending college and drawing the interest of a vampire (and having a quick lesbian encounter). Other than that the background, lore and plotting are all new.

Sorina attacks
The film begins in Bucovina in 1735. A horse gallops across the landscape as a woman is held down on a table. A wise woman (Maya Massar) dismounts from the horse and enters the home. She places a cross in the woman’s hand and then cuts into her arm with a knife. Into the wound she pours blood (later revealed to be vampire blood). We hear that *she* is coming. She is a vampire called Sorina (Claire Smithies). The two women have vanished and Sorina takes her rage out on a man left to harry her, his name being Stefan (Victor Webster, Mutant X).

Sharon Hinnendael as Charlotte
So what was going on? Later we discover that the girl was Sorina’s daughter and to save her from the vampire they performed a ritual that mingled the blood of the vampire with the human, making her (and her line) a dhampir. Charlotte is of that line and both she and we get the full story from the wise woman’s descendant Daciana (Keegan Connor Tracy). Now I wasn’t going to spoil who the modern day vampire is, though he has a name and a purpose. However the artwork for the film kind of gives it away and so it is Stefan, who is now going by the name Cole.

sleepwalking aftermath
His presence is causing Charlotte to have bad dreams, sleepwalk, hallucinate and causing her bloodstone pendant to burn her skin, but she doesn’t know his until later on, thinking that her dhampir nature is nothing more than a rare blood disorder that killed her mother. Straight from convent school, she is at college on a fencing scholarship (guess who her coach is) and she is shy, sexually repressed and inexperienced in life generally.

job interview
Much of the film follows her as her boss from her part time job, Chris (Ryan Kennedy, Blade: the Series) falls for her, she meets bitchiness head on in the form of Eliza (C.C. Sheffield, True Blood: Season 3) and has a drunken lesbian encounter with a member of the fencing team called Sarah (Chelsey Reist). So, why the interest from the vampire?

revealing the inner monster
This is key to our lore. In this it is possible for the vampire to become human again if he drinks the blood, offered willingly, from a virgin of the blood line of the vampire who turned him. The sacrifice will damn the virgin to Hell, however. Strangely we see a dream that suggests Charlotte may have been abused (though it is possible, from the symbolism, that the vampire killed the abuser), which would quite possibly have put paid to his ambitions. Apparently only heterosexual sexual encounters count too given the definite loss of her lesbian virginity. Other lore suggests that the vampires are fast, strong and burn violently in sunlight.

blood shower
The acting is fair enough – with Sharon Hinnendael convincingly repressed as Charlotte. It perhaps needed a little tightening in the script, there is nothing definitive but it all felt a little loose and takes a while to get where it is going. That said it hangs together much better than the original film. The new lore is a tad hokey (and reminiscent of the convoluted daywalking lore in contemporarily released Fright Night 2: New Blood) but at least offers more of a story than the first version of this. All in all not bad. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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