Blood From Stone

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Gabriella Toth and Vanja Kapetanovic in Blood From Stone
"There's an echo here of the kind of love that endures through everything, which is rather less poetic and rather more burdensome when one has to live with it."

Does the idea of eternal life sound like torture? Many of us, for many different reasons, find the suggestion rather dubious, but, as Sartre said, Hell is other people. Whilst one might build up an enduring life of one's own in any number of ways, messy, objectifying relationships that never seem to end are much harder to deal with.

Darya (Gabriella Toth) is young as vampires go, though in human terms she's been around a bit. Most of that time has been spent in the company of Jure (Vanja Kapetanovic), the man who turned her and who continues to treat her like a possession or a prop in his story. They were in love for a long time and it still hangs heavy in the air between them, sometimes suffocating, sometimes igniting in a burst of passion. She has repeatedly tried to move away and built a new life for herself, but he keeps on washing up.

Jure has his own way of coping with immortality, through drink and drugs. He can't consume them directly, though, so he chows down on alcoholic vagrants or buys drinks for strangers and gifts them cocaine only to drain them of blood shortly afterwards. The downside of this is that he's terrible at covering his trail. He leaves corpses everywhere in his wake, spinning happily through the streets until he collapses himself. Again and again, Darya has to deal with it. She begs him to straighten himself out, or at least to call his mum and get some help. His sister takes her side, telling him firmly that it is not like the old days and he has to change.

There's an echo here of the kind of love that endures through everything, which is rather less poetic and rather more burdensome when one has to live with it. Even after commencing a tentative new relationship with doctor Raymond (Eric Cotti), who doesn't know what she is but soon develops suspicions, Darya can't sever her feelings for Jure. It's difficult enough feeling responsible for a mortal partner who keeps going off on benders, but Jure has spent centuries failing to grow up.

Though well aware of the monstrosity of its characters and limned with gore, Blood From Stone is essentially a film about love - shorn of the usual sentiment, lived in the raw. Kapetanovic, a powerfully built man usually cast on that basis alone, gets to flex his acting muscles too and brings tremendous presence to his role. Jure is fun to be around even when we know what's likely to happen to the mortals he consorts with, and in his regretful moments there's a sweetness abut him that makes it easy to feel sympathy, but his soulful promises are worthless and there are very few moments when he evinces empathy.

In the quieter role, Toth is impressive. Darya is the one who complains, the one who tries to set limits - in other words, someone easy for an audience to dislike - yet Toth carries viewers with her, communicating a deep sense of longing for a better life. Darya's vulnerability, her underlying humanity, endure even when we see her commit vicious acts of her own - she needs to feed, after all. There's a bruised yet determined quality about her that makes it easy to understand how Raymond could be enchanted by her and Jure could find her both exciting and dependable.

An impressive independent production taking a grown-up look at a subject too often rendered trite, this film may not be high on the radar but it's well worth a look.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2020
Share this with others on...
Blood From Stone packshot
A vampire's failure to adapt to the modern age creates danger for him and the former partner he doesn't want to let go.

Director: Geoff Ryan

Writer: Geoff Ryan

Starring: Vanja Kapetanovic, Gabriella Toth, Nika Khitrova, Eric Cotti

Year: 2020

Runtime: 116 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:


Search database: