Eye For Film >> Movies >> Vampires (2009) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
As an antidote to Twilight this documentary about a Belgian family of vampires uses wit to strangle sentimentality. Not easy to make, as the producers confess at the start. They lost two crews in previous, failed attempts. When lunch comes with cameras, how does a peckish bloodsucker behave? Fangsomely grateful, or uncharacteristically compliant?
What do we learn that we didn’t know already? In rare circumstances vamps can revert and become human again. They can die and taste their own tears, something teenager Grace (Fleur Lise Hevet) aches for. She has a human boyfriend, with whom she shares her coffin during the day, and plays with suicide for the fun of it. Her brother Samson (Pierre Lognay) is so different. He revels in midnight, never shy at the feeding table, and has sex with anyone who moves, especially his mother and the glam wife of their esteemed leader, something that causes serious problems for the family later.
George (Carlo Ferrante), the patriarch, explains the advantages of living in Belgium. “Some people encourage us to act as a sort of disposal service of undesirables.” The authorities are most helpful. “We have illegal immigrants delivered to our door.” They are escorted upstairs to the meat coop, which resembles a hen run, until required in the kitchen.
The film avoids grotesque overkill, although the mother, Bertha (Vera Van Dooren), can’t help herself. She plays the fool because life is too long to be serious. The privilege of having a human film crew witness some of the more repulsive vampiric habits – mixed parties where the hosts snack on their guests and family meals when a meat coop victim is devoured alive – is treated with respect.
Avoiding judgemental critique, the docmakers treat this no differently from filming a lost tribe of the Amazon. The performances, if that is what they are, resonate in the darkest corners of memory.
After a while you yearn for the safety of Twilight’s fake romance. Somewhere in the ghost-filled attic of what-might-have-beens is a locked room containing alien corpses and 300-year-old vampires. Who doesn’t believe this? Just a little.Reviewed on: 28 Apr 2010