Saturday, November 01, 2014

Aeon: The Last Vampyre on Earth – review

Director: Daniel Falicki

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

One way of escaping some of the constraints of budget is to limit the number of sets used in a film. The fewest, of course, is one and Aeon uses this minimalist approach – as well as the minimalist approach of only two actors (actually five are listed but three are only seen, silently, for a brief scene and we also have some dead bodies). This could, of course, backfire.

It is to the credit, therefore, of the actors and director (who is also one of the actors) that it doesn’t backfire in this case but actually works… though perhaps it would have worked even better on stage.

the medical pod
It begins with a woman, Catherine (April Basile), stumbling into a warehouse like building. We can hear, from beyond the building, sounds that might be explosions, the building shakes and debris blocks the door. Catherine gropes blindly around the dark building, the only light coming from some blinking LEDs. Eventually she finds a breaker and gets a light that is above a medical pod. It looks as though it has crashed through from the floor above and there are bodies of soldiers and a scientist (by their apparel) around it.

the dossier
Catherine approaches it and sees that one of the soldiers grips a case. Suddenly there is a banging from the pod and the container shakes. Catherine runs scared to the edge of the room, hiding away. Eventually the noise stops. She approaches again, walking stealthily, and gets the case, running back to her hiding spot. In the case she finds a torch, a dossier and a bag of blood. We see parts of the dossier, it mentions predatory behaviour and extreme violence and also that it cannot be destroyed. It also mentions protocol type O+ - I guessed referring to the blood bag but that is never explained. At this point I got the feeling that she knew something about what was going on here but that is apparently not the case.

April Basile as Catherine
Suddenly an alarm and a red warning light indicate that the person in the pod (Daniel Falicki) has escaped. She sees him juddering uncontrollably on the floor. Getting closer, she sees that his fingernails are blackened talons. He wears a mask, which she removes and he vomits a think greenish sludge. He then seems to die. A little later and Catherine notices that the body has gone. She sees him sitting on barrels in silhouette and he suggests that it is his lucky day. This is the first dialogue that we get in 21 minutes and yet the film has not dragged, indeed kudos to April Basile who silently carried us with her through the first twenty minutes.

Daniel Falicki as the Vampyre
There ends up being a conversation between Catherine and the vampyre (for that is what he is). He has a supposition that another race (alien) has triggered an extinction event on humanity – he has seen many such events over the millennia. The film balances out the conversation against sporadic moments of violence when the vampyre tries to devour her. We discover that he has been held for decades and he is both weak and in poor shape – he loses one front fang and a nail as they are falling out. Apparently the military were trying to splice his DNA with human DNA (he is another species). As for Catherine it is a case of wrong place, wrong time. She was heading home from work when the extinction event began and the warehouse looked like a place to hide!

scream of the vampyre
The vampyre is not only another species but we cannot get away from the fact that he is an alpha predator and badass – probably sociopathic from a human perspective as well. He does “seduce” but the reason I used inverted commas is that this is a seduction using philosophical discussion rather than romantic intent. Really, had he been on full fettle she’d have been dead. This is underlined by the fact that, as he sits (almost dead like again), she gets a gun and fills him full of lead (as it were). This serves to do little more than wake him up again! He does, however, keep coughing up green gunk and blood – his insides are liquidising – and so he is dying. Whether a feed would have reversed this is unknown – he does feed on the dead soldiers (causing desiccation of the corpses) but their dead blood apparently doesn’t help. The only other lore to mention is the fact that he is able to read Catherine’s mind, communicate telepathically and cause visual hallucinations.

Catherine goes through an ordeal
The two actors keep us engrossed (despite a too gravelly inflection by Falicki) in their conversations that track an alternate history and philosophy and touch upon religion and the soul. To be critical, this was probably a little over long but it didn’t necessarily drag and Falicki (as director) needs to be commended for keeping a sense of tension running through the movie. The soundtrack, provided by March Violets' guitarist Tom Ashton, adds to the atmosphere but never intrudes. The film deserves a strong 5.5 out of 10 but the one set, dialogue orientated film is not going to be for everyone. However, it does show that low budget films can carry a Hell of a lot of class. You can get the DVD directly from Sector 5 films. The imdb page is here.

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