Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fantasia Film Festival 2015 Film Review - Therapy for a Vampire

The resurgence of the comedic Vampire film started with last years What We do in the Shadows. The trend continues with David Ruhm's strong Austrian entry Therapy for a Vampire. The pair of films serve to wash away the pain of past disastrous attempts as the George Hamilton vehicle Love at First Bite or the even worse production Once Bitten. Count Geza von Kozsnom (Tobias Moretti) has a problem.  It's now 1932, he no longer loves his wife and fears that time has run out to reacquaint with his true love Nadila who promised to return to him after her death centuries ago in Constantinople. To relieve his heartache he seeks out professor Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer) commencing treatment sessions nightly at 8:00 PM. The Countess Elsa (Jeanette Hain) is obsessed by the fact that she cannot see her reflected image. She is desperate and would consider any option to know her true face.  The other couple in the feature have their own issues. Vicktor (Dominic Oley) has a fantasy vision of his fiancĂ©  Lucy (Conelia Ivancan) in mind that she stubbornly refuses to acknowledge. His vision happens to be Nadila, the Count's lost love. Plus Vicktor is an expert portrait painter and probably the only person that can grant the Countess' wish.

Writer /Director David Ruhm weaves an ever unspooling narrative.  The writing is robust; simple concepts and phrases morph several times over to produce amusing results. Ruhm does not only focus on the main actors in the film. The narrative gives plenty of opportunity for the secondary characters in the cast to shine. As in most Vampire film the chief action occurs at night however the presentations is far from dreary. Cinematographer Martin Gascladt uses his main ally the moonlight to illuminate the proceedings especially for shots in and around the Kozsnom schloss. The moon plays a duel role in the piece as the cycle of the full moon provides a major plot point to the production.

Tobias Moretti deftly plays the lead role. He's bored of the eternal life, drinks only bottled blood and attends sessions with the Professor to restore his will to carry on. Jenette Hain devours the role of Countess Elsa von Kozsnom. She puts extra gusto into her nightly feeding hunts.  The Countess has a look of a true huntress in her eye but can turn sweet and gentle if needed to get what she wants. Anatole Taubman is also very effective as the third member of the von Kozsnom household. Ignaz is their driver, finds targets for the Count, doubles as their butler and disposes of the bodies after his masters have fed. He also benefits from a strong comedic twist after he unknowingly completes a hypnotic suggestion authored by the Count.

Therapy for a Vampire is a witty vampire tale that features prominently several aspects of vampire legend. Mirrors, garlic, stakes and crosses all figure prominently in the script. Rhum makes particularly good use of the Vampire obsession with counting several times in the narrative. The cast is strong, the dialogue falls into a superb rhythm and 1932 Vienna is an ideal setting for the story. It's a film that I highly recommend.

**** Out of 4.

Therapy for a Vampire | David Ruhm | Austria /Switzerland | 2015 | 87 Minutes.

Tags: Psychology, Sigmund Freud, 1932, Vienna, Constantinople, Reincarnation, Eternal Life, Flying, Transfusion, Steak Haus.

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