January 4, 2014 -- This vampire movie is a riff on other vampire movies and vampire TV series which have for years explored the nature of these mythical creatures. Mostly this movie is about blood and sex, but it does go beyond that to explore the clash of philosophies within the community of vampires and how they differ from humans. It is about the beastly desire for blood restrained by the rules of civilization.
There are echoes of Anne Rice's ideas in this story, particularly at a vampire party where vampires discuss the differences between themselves and humans. There are also echoes of ideas expressed in such TV series as “Forever Knight” and “Moonlight” where vampires strive to be contributing members of society, rather than leeches, merely sucking blood from it. There is even talk at the party of trying to create artificial blood, eliminating the need to kill people.
But really, this movie is mainly about sex and blood. That has always been the underlying draw of vampire stories, from Bram Stoker on, even when it isn't stated as obviously as it is in this movie. In this film, the connection between sex and vampirism is direct. The vampires, Djuna (played by Joséphine de La Baume of “Rush”) and her sister, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida of “Rubber”) turn into vampires when they are sexually aroused.
This is handy when it comes to feeding on men, since both of these vampires are very attractive. It is not hard for them to attract men and lure them into secluded spots. A brief moment of pleasure for the men soon ends in death, and nourishment for the vampire. These vampires have sex for food, and they also have sex with each other for pleasure. That is a lot of sex.
A writer, Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia of “Grown Ups 2”) sees the lovely Djuna in a video store and is immediately drawn to her, despite the danger. Even after he learns she is a vampire, he cannot resist her and soon becomes a vampire himself in an overtly sexual scene where the barely clothed Djuna is spreadeagled and chained to a bed. Despite her warnings, Paolo releases her from the chains and is willingly bitten.
Mimi comes to visit Paolo and Djuna. She is jealous of their love. She seduces Paolo and compromises the vampires' benefactor, Xenia (Anna Mouglalis of “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky”). Xenia is trying to foster a civilized community of vampires, but Mimi will have none of it. She enjoys killing people.
This dual nature of vampires, the desire to be a part of society, is opposed by the hunger of the beast within. This is exemplified in both Paolo and Djuna, as well as Xenia. As much as they try to be civilized, they can't help but kill. Mimi has gone over completely to the dark side.
This movie's main draw is sex and blood. It also tries to delve into the nature of vampires and humans, but it is more successful with the sex and blood than it is with the more philosophical discussions and themes. Writer-director Xan Cassavetes (daughter of John Cassavetes) is trying to go beyond the boundaries of the vampire genre. She doesn't quite succeed, but at least she tries.
She also shows in this film that she doesn't mind wallowing in the blood and sex of this genre for the fun of it. This film is a welcome respite from the agonizingly dumb teen vampire romance in the “Twilight” series. This film rates a C+.
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