Friday, January 24, 2014

Vampires The Romanian Way

I don't remember what show I was watching at the time, but I first learned of a strigoi from TV. I'm pretty sure it was Ghost Hunters International, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they described a strigoi as a shape shifting spirit. A character I was playing in an online game could change shape sometimes, so strigoi became it's last name. I was trying to remember this word a few weeks ago. That is when I found a movie had been made using the same word. Of course I had to watch it. Since it is now taken out of instant watch, I decided to get it watched before that time. It is also a film from the UK, so it fit into what I have been watching lately.

Constantin Tirescu (Constantin Barbulescu) has been stealing land from the villagers, and they are getting tired of it. The land is being sold to other groups, so the villagers decide it is time for some justice, by killing the Constantin and his wife. Vlad (Catalin Paraschiv) is returning to Romania shortly after this. Vlad has been in Italy becoming a doctor and apparently working some dead end jobs. He doesn't know about the murders of Tirescu and his wife, but he does learn about the death or a villager. He visits the place where the body is, where he finds a few people sitting around drinking while watching the body, to make sure it doesn't do anything but lay there. Vlad notices some marks around the guy's neck that suggest that he died a violent death, but no one else seems to care about this. While looking into this, he comes to learn about the land grab and the undead?

Strigoi ended up being a bit of an odd film. It was filmed by a UK crew in Romania, using actors from the area. It is also in English. Writer/director Faye Jackson felt she couldn't write a script that would fit the Romanian language, so we get English speaking actors. The accents are at least fun to listen to because of this. While I thought the word strigoi meant one thing, it turns out that the TV lied to me. Go figure, right? Strigoi is actually just another word for vampire. This version of the vampire is different. There are two types really, the undead that we are more used to, and the living vampire. The plot deals with both kinds, but it also goes deeper than just a vampire movie. The people in the village are very tight lipped about things, which goes back to when they were under communism. Of course I didn't know a lot about that, but someone on IMDb explained a lot of it. If you are like me in not knowing the history of Romania, then you might find Strigoi a little hard to follow at times. I don't know how many people are in the village, but the film doesn't really show very many, except at the start. Strigoi is a different film, and not what I was expecting, even for a vampire film. I don't think these vampires bite. It was hard to tell though, and of course none of the character ever said.

There wasn't a lot of gore to be found, but there was some nice makeup all the same. The undead don't really look dead, but at the same time, they don't look like they once did either. It was pretty cool makeup I thought. The acting was also pretty good. Some thought it was rather wooden, but I have to disagree with that. I rather enjoyed the acting. The accents probably went a long way with that though. I like hearing how words are pronounced by other people.

If you are into black comedy type films, you should enjoy Strigoi in that sense as well. Some of the stuff did get me to laugh sometimes. I also enjoyed the characters. There are some interesting characters, as well as some interesting situations. According to the person on IMDb who seems to know a lot about Romania, a lot of what we see in the film is pretty spot on as far as customs and things like that. While these things threw me off at first, thus the middle of the road rating, Strigoi is a film I would like to watch again someday to see if when I have learned about it changes how much I like the film. If you are looking for a vampire film that offers something different, Strigoi could be just the film for you. It isn't far off from ours, but different enough that I think most people will enjoy it.
3 out of 5 I think I will sleep the sleep of the undead now

1 comment:

cattleworks said...


Happy New Year! Well, it's still January, at least (and 2014)!
I've been very bad about checking out your movie blog, sorry. If it's any consolation, I haven't really been on the internet much lately. I've been busy trying to do some writing of my own and some film editing lately.
Hey, speaking of which, you saw my squirrel film, didn't you?
Thank you!

Anyway, I thought I'd stop by!

Your comments about STRIGOI are interesting-- mostly the whole Romanian cultural context. Sometimes it's cool checking out films from other countries and seeing how they do some of our genres. Sometimes you get something really outrageous, like hopping vampires (from China, I think) or a strange vampire film that uses seagulls instead of bats (BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS, from, uh, Argentina?), although, that may have been a budgetary concern.
"We can't afford to wrangle real bats or make fake ones, so use seagull footage and tint the film red..." Which I actually thought was creative, but then they go to that visual CONSTANTLY and it's no longer creative but ridiculous--"Come on! They're SEAGULLS!"

I've been trying to write a movie review for my own blog recently. Hopefully I'll post it very soon, but eh, you never know... Anyway, I always think of you when I try to write a review because I always have a hard time with the synopsis, and you seem to have that part of the review-writing down.
One's a review for MY FAIR ZOMBIE and then I want to write a review for a movie I couldn't even watch I thought it was so bad, NIGHT OF THE NAKED DEAD.

But I should go. Crap! I can't believe it's 3 am! See? I've been sort of off the internet lately, but when you get back on...

Later, baby!

Ramblingly, but affectionately...