Monday, September 07, 2020

Vampire Virus – review

Director: Charlie Steeds

Release date: 2020

Contains spoilers

Also called After Dark, there was something about this film. Shot, I understand, in the UK but set in America the filmmakers did a good job at making it look like it was shot where set but that did lead to a limited number of sets and that produced its own issues.

The film started, however, in Romania (or, in a long corridor allegedly in Romania). In that corridor a male doctor passes by a female colleague, Izabella (Jéssica Alonso). She retrieves a large syringe and walks to a cell.


Inside the cell is a woman in a straightjacket, she knows Izabella is there and cries to have her take the pain away. Izabella swipes into the cell and looks to prep the needle when the girl lunges and bites her. The male doctor returns and sees her bitten and sets an alarm off. She manages to stab the doctor with a needle and escape the armed guards coming for her…

Peter Lofsgard as Jack

In America, Jennifer (Natalie Martins) is running late meeting the girls. It is Friday evening. They are drinking, gossiping and start to insist that Jennifer go clubbing with them. She capitulates, says she’ll go home and change and meet them at the club. At home her roommate, Jack (Peter Lofsgard, the Mummy), is behind on bills but, when he hears she is going out, manages to produce some of the money he owes her. She asks him to go but he is due to have a romantic evening in with boyfriend Freddie (Derek Nelson).

finding the father

Two detectives, Peterson (Jonathan Hansler) and Noonan (Mark McKirdy), enter a house with a uniformed cop – Freddie. The electric is out and they find the husband apparently dead in the kitchen – an infected bite in his abdomen. The kids are dead in another room, the wife missing. It seems that this is identical to another home invasion/murder. Suddenly the father coughs up blood – he is still alive.

dance of seduction

Jennifer is very drunk (after not much drink) she is fascinated by a woman, Izabella, and two guys dirty dancing. The guys approach her and she goes dancing with them, accepting a drink they give her. Then Izabella cuts in. Suddenly the glass breaks in Jennifer’s hand. Izabella takes her to the bar and cleans the cut in her palm and then takes her out of there to treat the wound. She takes her down an alley and through a door, a long corridor ends in a chamber with a bed area and, after bandaging her hand, Izabella comes on to her but soon the fangs are out…

Jennifer develops fangs

So, Jennifer wakes in the alley. Her hand is healed but she has an infected wound on her abdomen (the close up of it, later, was a bit of a shoddy makeup effect, to be honest). We get the normal tropes of losing reflection and incredible thirst (though sunlight doesn’t appear to be an issue). Jack sees the wound and takes her to a doctor – however the cops have also discovered that a virus is involved and have sent out an apb on Izabella and any infection that is reported in hospitals/clinics.

Natalie Martins sa Jennifer

The film is restricted with locations and that makes part of this laughable. Jennifer, with Jack, goes to find Izabella – for instance – and leaves Jack in the alley. He comes to the attention of a couple of homophobes and is beaten and Jennifer attacks and kills them (feeding off one). The cops come to the scene but never check through the door right next to the bodies that leads to the vampire's lair. Noonan then stakes the alley out and watches Izabella return to the alley, but it all seems hokey and overly convenient. That said, this is obviously born of necessity as they try their damnedest to keep that American vibe with the locations.

Izabella with another vamp

The basic story is very simple, with Izabella intent on making a large number of people vampires and Jennifer working out what has happened. However, the subtexts are quite nice. Firstly, there is the virus spreading through the club scene and overtones of Aids. Then there is the queering of the primary relationships - Freddie and Jack, plus Jennifer and Izabella. Freddie is closeted at work, despite the strongest relationship as shown to the viewer being that of Jack and Freddie, and Freddie's reasons for remaining closeted comes to a head when Peterson aims to kill the vampires to restore a heteronormative status quo, demanding Freddie choose that over the infected Jack.

Jéssica Alonso as Izabella

So, the performances were fine. Jéssica Alonso projected the right amount of exotic and Natalie Martins gave a strong performance of Jennifer. The photography was good and though the plot was simple it worked well enough and at 80 minutes it didn’t overstay its welcome. It was just the squashing everything down to the limited locations that let the narrative down. This wasn’t too bad as a bit of entertainment and had an interesting subtext. 5.5 out of 10. The IMDb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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