DVD region 2. Bounty Films.
rather surprising that so few filmmakers have chosen to explore
the East European roots of the vampire myth – or perhaps
not, given the obviously more commercial potential of the Bram
Stoker-inspired version of the vampire than has informed most
movies since Nosferatu. But Strigoi,
shot in Romania by British director Faye Jackson, is defiantly
old school in its approach.
The story follows medical school drop out Vlad, returning to his
village after working in a fast food restaurant in Italy, and
finding a mystery unfolding around him. An old man has died, quite
clearly of unnatural causes, yet no one wants to investigate,
and the local villagers all seem to have something to hide. It
turns out that they have killed the local landowner – who
has been cheating them out of their land – and redistributed
the wealth. The only problem is that the landowner and his wife
still seem to be very much alive – a little red-faced and
perpetually hungry perhaps, but still…
Strigoi neatly balances horror and black comedy,
mystery and political commentary (the villagers have seen their
land stolen by the Germans, the Russians and now the capitalists
over the years) in a story that develops at a slow pace, allowing
the characters to develop and the mythology to be explored. As
Vlad finds that Strigoi don’t necessarily have
to be dead – and indeed begins to wonder just who is
dead and who isn’t in the village – events unfold
in a pleasingly original manner – the comedy never overwhelming
the story, the horror – including some graphic autopsy footage
– never too excessive.
If there’s a fault, it might be that the Romanian actors
speaking English occasionally seem a little stilted – but
this is a rare occurrence. On the whole, Stigoi is that rarest
of things: a truly original vampire story.
The DVD also contains Lump, a ferociously paranoid
medical short (11 minutes) from Jackson that is unsettlingly brilliant.
A nice little bit of icing on a tasty cake..
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