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Sangre Vurdalak

A.K. Tolstoy's A Taste of Blood
Vurdalak Blood

Argentina / Singapore 2020
produced by
Roxana Ramos (executive), Paola Suarez (executive), Jordan Nutson (executive), Sia Mehilli (executive), Ryo Ebe (executive) for Aramos Cine, Jaque Content, 108 Media
directed by Santiago Fernández Calvete
starring Germán Palacios, Alfonsina Carrocio, Lautaro Bettoni, Tom CL (= Tomás Carullo Lizzio), Naiara Awada, Carmela Merediz, Martín Rena, Beto Bernuéz, Julieta Daga, Jose Manuel Solis Vargas
written by Santiago Fernández Calvete, based on the novelette Sem'ya Vurdalaka by Aleksei Tolstoy, music by Santosh Logandran

Vurdalak

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Natalia (Alfonsina Carrocio) is pretty much locked away by her dad Aguirre (Germán Palacios) in their country home, even though she's old enough to look after herself, so it's hardly surprising that she one day gives her father the slip to run away with her boyfriend Alexis (Tom CL) - but he doesn't really want to run away. So she walks off on her own to God knows where, and eventually walks into a stranger who claims to be her uncle she never knew she had, but he talks very convincingly about her family's origins in Easter Europe for her to trust him - until he turns into a vurdalak, a vampire like monster. Natalia almost falls prey to him but is saved by Alexis, who takes her back to her family. Now this is when Aguirre opens up about the family heritage that's closely linked to the vurdalaks, which is why they left for South America decades ago - but now apparently the vurdalaks have tracked them down, so dad decides to go on a hunt that night and urges Natalia, Alexis, Natalia's brother Manuel (Lautaro Bettoni), his wife Eva (Naiara Awada) and their daughter Malena (Carmela Merediz) to lock themselves inside the house during the night and not come out before sunrise, and not let him in before then either. However once they're locked inside, weird and toxic family dynamics develop as Manuel and Eva desparately want to make a getaway with their daughter while Natalia and Alexis want to wait it out - which ironically enough ends with Alexis being chained up outside, and Natalia refusing to leave his side out of love and loyalty. And before the sun's even up the group goes searching for Aguirre. They find him, bring him home - and realize he might have been turned into a vurdalak after all, especially since he makes numerous excuses to face the sun. Ultimately it's decided to chain him up, and while Natalia and Alexis keep watch, Manuel and Eva go fetch their car they left stranded a few miles off. But then Aguirre escapes his chains, and while Natalia and Alexis manage to escape him, Eva decides to distrust them since they've been with Aguirre for too long, and might have been turned. Thing is, this has now become a life-and-death conflict between these two parties, and both parties have guns ...

 

Now Aleksei Tolstoy's story from 1839 this film's based on has been filmed several times before, most prominently by Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here] as a segment of his I Tre Volti della Paura/Black Sabbath (1963) - but while Bava's version goes full gothic, this one is more of a psychological thriller, where the monsters really take backseat during much of the story to have the (still-)human protagonists fight amonst themselves, which seems to lead to far worse results that the monster on its own would have ever achieved. And this is achieved thanks to a very clever, character-heavy script that really manages to give all its characters at least some relatable traits, refuses to let most of them fall into a mere good-bad dichotomy - which of course only helps to make everything all the more horrible. And a strong cast only helps to bring them to life in a believable way while an atmosphere-heavy directorial effort sets up just the right mood for some really cool genre entertainment.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD