Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Realm of the Damned: Tenebris Deos – review

Director: Tom Paton

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

Realm of the Damned is a motion comic, meaning that it is a graphic novel that has had the original art manipulated into animation, with soundtrack and voice acting added. In honesty I am not sure about the concept of the motion comic, it definitely lacks the flow of a traditional animation and whilst it can be said to bring the art to life, it also loses the reader’s inner voice interpretation.

The Graphic novel is of the same name and was written by Alec Worley and illustrated by Pye Parr, and I will look at that as a separate entity at some point in the future to see if it holds together as a read better than this did as a watch. The DVD has also spawned a fictional black metal band, the Sons of Balaur, who are credited with the soundtrack.

back in the day
The comic opens with an introduction to primary (anti-)hero Alberic Van Helsing (David Vincent), who gives a potted history of his young son succumbing to what he believed to be cholera, of his discovery of evil supernatural creatures in the world and of him becoming a self-appointed nemesis to them. The story then moves forward to an alternative modern setting. One in which Van Helsing has been using vampire blood to maintain his life.

Balaur reborn
Over in Norway the members of the Sons of Balaur are in a church and one band member, Thomas (Chris Casket), has had the others turn on guitarist Kristopher. The guitarist believed they were going to burn the church down, and this is true, but before that occurs they force him to wear a relic called the Mask of Balaur and nobble him with a crowbar to stop him fleeing. Outside they wait and the being that emerges from the burning church is not Kristopher but the reincarnated Balaur (Dani Filth). He kills the band, bar Thomas, who he makes his familiar.

Van Helsing
Van Helsing goes to a venue where the Damned are playing. He follows a man and woman from the gig and interrupts her feeding on the guy, using her to supply himself with vampire blood. Following this he goes to confession but the church is raided by SWAT hunting him down. He escapes into the sewers but is soon caught and taken to Rome. Now I said this was an alternate world and it is one in which the monsters have taken ascendancy. The Congregation (the Vatican’s hunters) has fallen and the New Congregation has taken the seat of Rome and they are vampires.

King of the Werewolves
They caught Van Helsing by using the female vampire as a lure and putting some form of tracer in her blood. The vampire he is taken to, Athena (Jill Janus), is Balaur’s sister and murderer and she wants Van Helsing to track him down and destroy him before he can get to her. Balaur, in the meantime, is hunting down powerful creatures (including the King of the Werewolves and an Egyptian Mummy) to try and take their powers. When we get his back story we discover that Balaur rode with Vlad Ţepeş and became a monster amongst monsters.

the Mummy
There are some interesting lore elements to this – for instance Van Helsing attempts to re-sanctify the Vatican (despite his stolen longevity making him as susceptible to sanctified objects as the vampires) and this would have worked were it not for hearing the news of Balaur’s return, which stopped the process. Indeed there is a strong religious aspect to this tale. What let it down was the narrative, which wasn’t as flowing as I would have liked – I wonder whether this will work better in the original format – and the voice acting. This veered between overly melodramatic and insufferably wooden, but it did drag the experience down. I liked aspects of this, however, and will happily suggest 4 out of 10.

At the time of writing the review there was not an IMDb page.

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