Nobody said being an immortal creature of the night with an addiction for human blood would be easy. Also not easy; finding actors who can deliver their lines like they aren’t reading them from a teleprompter.
For her first feature-length piece of fiction, writer and director, Xan Cassavetes (yes, daughter of famed director, John) takes us into the dramatic world of some erotic modern day vampires and exposes the many moral dilemmas these “monsters” face. Who knew the living dead had it so bad?
Not wanting to waste any of the film’s slick 97 minute runtime on something so banal as character development we’re introduced quite quickly to Paolo, the writer, and Djuna, the lonely stay-at-home vampire. In no time Paolo’s writer’s block leads him to the local video store where he locks eyes with Djuna who is there to return some overdue videos. Before you know it the two of them are back at Djuna’s place and locking lips. Djuna, being the over excited vampire that she is, quickly brings the date to an end when she bites Paolo’s tongue. Control yourself, woman! But, soon after Paolo leaves (very soon, in fact. Again, no time for character development) he comes right back to Djuna’s house. This time he insists on coming inside (no pun intended), a request granted by Djuna. Inside they go. Djuna very bluntly tells Paolo that she is a vampire. Naturally, Paolo doesn’t believe her, which means of course, that she must prove it to him. In this case proving it means having all her four limbs tied to bedposts and being stimulated to the point of eyes changing colors and fangs being formed. So, having witnessed her transformation Paolo decides it best to unchain her. Naturally, sexy time ensues, Paolo gets bitten, and one of the six critics attending this movie, who has the hard job of watching a film from start to finish, walks out.
From this point on it would have been nice to have seen the film go any other direction than where it actually went. Just as I’m settling in to what looks like is going to be an interesting character study on a pair of characterless newlyweds, Djuna’s sister, the nymphomaniac bloodlusting Mimi, makes a surprise visit. It would appear that the addition of Mimi is for the sole purpose of metaphorically demonstrating how a dull subplot can suck the blood out of a way more interestingly simple storyline. Mimi doesn’t just awkwardly push the story along, she also delivers her lines awkwardly. Seriously, Roxanne Mesquida delivers some of the most awful acting I have ever seen from a female actor, and I’ve seen my share of Sharon Stone movies. Sorry, Roxane, but it’s the truth. I loved you as the jealous Witch in Greg Araki‘s Kaboom (2010), but then again, I don’t recall you having all that many lines in that film. Don’t feel too bad though, it’s not as if your co-star Milo Ventimiglia is going to win a best actor award anytime soon for his part as Paolo.
Aside from the
line reading acting and pointless plotting that seems to go nowhere, Cassavetes’ film is not without its merits. For example, both the opening and closing credits have pleasurable fonts. Did I just describe fonts as pleasurable? Anyhoo, oddly enough I’m quite certain that this film would have a much different impact on me if I were to see it in a packed theatre. If Tommy Wiseau‘s The Room can find a cult following, surely so can this. I’m not implying that this has the potential of being one of those movies deemed so bad that it’s good, because it’s not that bad, but I definitely can see the appeal this could have with a certain audience. Fans of Roger Vadim, Jean Rollin, Paul Morrissey, the Hammer Films of the early 1970s, and of course, Tony Scott‘s classic, The Hunger will have a much easier time absorbing this film than the average movie goer.