Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blood and Donuts

For a first real Women in Horror Recognition Month post, I chose to watch Holly Dale's Blood and Donuts. I'll be honest; I only chose the film because it has a female director and female-directed feature-length horror is all too rare. I must admit that, going on only the title, I really wasn't expecting much.

How wrong could I be?

Though I won't pretend that this is absolutely essential viewing, this is a clever, fun, sensitive vampire film; sharing much more with thoughtful films like Interview With The Vampire and Let the Right One In than with Hammer's neck-biting romps. At the heart of this film we have the indefinitely old vampire, Boya - a "humanist vampire" as we discover. Much like Brad Pitt/Louis in Interview With The Vampire, this leaves Goya to lead a less than glamorous life, munching on rats and pidgeons as privately as he can and trying not to court too much attention.

If we're completely honest, the plot doesn't exactly go anywhere and there're a handful of unsatisfyingly loose ends (bad scripting or unfortunate editing, who knows?) but the bulk of this film is about the relationships between Goya, Molly the waitress at the coffee and donut shop and Earl, a cab-driver leaned on by some shady gangster types. Though, as I said, the story doesn't really take these characters very far, the actors are surprisingly good for such an obviously low-budget affair. Gordon Currie, as Goya, is superb and creates a suffering vampire who we really do care for, whislt Helene Clarkson and Justin Louis are also both convincing in their roles - although perhaps a little too quick to accept Goya as a vampire.

It's by no means flawless - a handfull of (really) dodgy special effects are decidedly disappointing, the title is excruciatingly awful (I know that's not a major point, but still....) and, after creating such an interesting vampire, it's a shame we learn so little about Goya's life (or rather, existence. Life's probably the wrong word). For all that, it is a well-paced, interesting vampire flick which manages to both follow a good deal of vampiric folklore (excepty stakes to the heart apparently) and bring something fresh to what can, at times, be a fairly tired, predictable and plodding genre.

As if to further reward you, David Cronenburg's extended cameo does add some more fun to the bill; he and his mobster subordinates are mostly an excuse for some vampire action - the characters are never really fleshed out at all - and both help to create some tension in the film but also to undermine the plot somewhat. Their inclusion is never really explained satisfactorily - it is as if someone forgot to include a little chunk of plot that might have bound it all together a lot more tightly.

Minor gripes aside, this is definitely a film worth watching and came as a wonderful surprise.

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