Vampire Diary Review

"Amid the pulsating rhythms and dark fashions of the popular Goth scene..." Hold it right there! This viewer isn't normally one to complain about the kind of things filmmakers say as regards their films but I'm ready to bet my flour-dusted Fields Of The Nephilim jacket and cobweb-strewn wide-brimmed hat that Goth hasn't been popular since the likes of The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission and, yes, Fields Of The Nephilim themselves troubled the lower reaches of the charts. And that was a very long time ago. But waiting two decades for something Goth related and then to not even find themselves deserving of a mention in Vampire Diary must come as quite a blow, even to those who otherwise sing of plagues, the frailty of the human body and, of course, vampires. Such disappointment may even lead to a song or two.

But I digress. Amid the pulsating rhythms and dark fashions of the popular Goth scene, filmmaker Holly (Morven Macbeth) looks for characters for the documentary that she's shooting on the culture of weekend vampires. One stands out, Vicki (Anna Walton), a young girl who claims to be a real vampire. Where those around her are content to remove their fangs before returning to work, Vicki does not. Instead, she tells Holly that she craves only blood. A passionate affair begins between the two women. But the newspaper headlines warn of a vampire killer, one believed responsible for a series of horrific killings. Vicki does not deny the killings. Holly chooses to remain with her, aiding her and continuing to film her for a documentary she is now a part of. Then Vicki claims that she is pregnant and that the child will also become a vampire. Remaining with Vicki, Holly looks for somewhere where the child can be born in safety.

It isn't just in its placing its story of vampirism outside of dusty old castles in the Carpathian mountains that Vampire Diary tries to do something different. Not unique, mind, but different. Blade, for example, did the vampires-in-nightclubs thing long before Vampire Diary whereas other films have questioned whether or not vampirism was supernatural in origin or was, instead, fetishistic in origin. As for the lover affair between Holly and Vicki, between this and The Hunger, it is Tony Scott's film that is the more famous. However, that's not to take away from what Vampire Diary does very well. Framing its story in the manner of a documentary with straight-to-camera video-diary sequences, Vampire Diary often finds itself in the midst of the horror, be it Vicki's feeding on a tramp or her killing of a young man who she seduces and feeds on during fellatio. In a manner that is often abrupt, such moments are often much more effective than they would be in a more polished film. Without spoiling the film too much, the scenes of childbirth and of Holly's biting the umbilical cord to separate mother and child may be amongst the grisliest scenes of horror, its lack of fuss making the sound of screaming and the sight of blood all the more intense.

Its problems come with its setting in the Goth scene. Vicki and Holly are at least believable in their roles of dominant vampire and her accomplice, one who is unwilling at first but who is soon prepared to sacrifice everything, even her own health, to feed Vicki's hunger for blood. However, the characters that skirt this relationship are not. Daze (Kate Sissons) and Adam (Jamie King) are amongst the few that are named but they exist only in passing. Daze, in particular, is a cliche of the Goth scene, all Kohl eyeliner, black leather and fishnet gloves, while Adam is little better, his role in the film being to provide a getaway on the beach where Holly and Vicki can retreat to before the birth of Vicki's child. But even they do a lot better than the Goths that drift in and out of the film and who threaten to leave Vampire Diary stuck in the ghetto of some youth culture that few remember.

Far from being as vital a part of the vampire genre as, say, George Romero's Martin, Vampire Diary still does some very good things. Those scenes set in Goth nightclubs and in the house parties that follow probably aid those moments, making them seem much better than they might otherwise be. But for the most part, Vampire Diary is more of the same old vampire/goth shtick. That may be partly my fault given that it reminds me of those early Poppy Z Brite books that I have a little over an arm's length away but it all seems so familiar. Granted, there's been a lot of vampire films of late and few have done much that's interesting with the legend but at least, at times, Vampire Diary tries harder than most. It's rarely dull and is much more explicit than the average horror, with those being reasons enough to catch up with it.



Transfer

This seems to have been shot on a mix of HD and camcorder video, with one providing most of the scenes shot for the film and the other supplying the video diaries and home movie footage. They work off one another very well with it being perfectly clear from the action onscreen where one ends and the other begins. Generally, it looks very good throughout. What grain there is seems to be deliberate and while it's a very dark film, again this is probably intentional. However, that's not to say that you won't find yourself peering into the television nor rewinding to catch what has just happened, both of which will happen.

There is a choice of DD5.1 and DD2.0 audio tracks and both are fine. Of the two, this viewer tended towards thinking that some uses of the surround channels were unnecessary in the DD5.1 mix while, on the whole, the stereo mix sounded warmer and more upfront. There are no subtitles.



Extras

As well as a series of Trailers from Peccadillo Pictures publicising their cinema and DVD releases, the main extra on the disc is a Making Of (13m46s), which describes bits and pieces of the production, particularly things like the location shoot on the Isle of Sheppey and the special effects, as well as interviewing the two directors. There is also a Trailer (1m50s) for Vampire Diary.

Film
6 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
4 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10
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