I watched the trailer for this film and was intrigued by the weirdness and promise of a unique vampire flick. Check out the trailer on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Gist: Three young people, tired of financial struggle and desperate not to end up working themselves to death in menial jobs like their parents, decide to break into a decaying mansion which is rumoured to contain treasure: gold, jewels and money. But the house still holds a lone occupant, Ms. Jessel. Once a renown ballet teacher, she now lies in a coma, withered and decaying alone in the house. Lucie, a nurse in training tells her boyfriend William of the treasure and he convinces her and their friend, Ben, to find it and start new lives. (Money buys happiness? Or freedom to follow you dreams?)
Thieves and the Damned: Chloé Coulloud (Lucie Klavel), Félix Moati (William), Jérémy Kapone (Ben), Catherine Jacob (Catherine Wilson), Chloé Marcq (Anna), Marie-Claude Pietragalla (Jessel),
My Take: (Contains minor spoilers) This movie kind of threw me off with some of the things that happened. From the trailer, it looks like a straight up horror flick with creepy, blood soaked little ballerinas, a creepy old comatose woman and a dark house draped in shadows and bizarre stuffed animals – no, not stuffed toys, actual stuffed animals. What this movie actually has is the creepy old woman and blood soaked ballerinas but it is also just plain weird in its presentation. It eludes to vampires but not in any way that is obvious other than the blood drinking. Jessel had a daughter, Anna, thought to be dead but she was actually…not? Sort of? The would be thieves discover Anna standing like a macabre doll on a pedestal, her flesh cracked, her eyes sewn shut, dressed in her dance clothes, just standing there. William inserts a key into the base of the pedestal and music starts to play as it turns, like one of those jewelry box ballerinas. But she isn’t dead, she’s a vampire as is Jessel. There is no real surprise here regarding the fact neither Anna or Jessel aren’t dead but it’s the other ballerinas that show up once and then aren’t seen again that is odd. It gets more odd when Lucie is caught by Jessel’s Renfield, Wilson and subjected to a body swap. It’s weird, the thing with the body swap and just the lack of clarity of the story. There are a few flashback scenes to try give some context but it didn’t really help me get a grip on the story.
Critique Much: As mentioned above, there is a lack of clarity in the storytelling. It has an interesting concept however it feels like there are portions of the story missing, things cut out that would have made the story more coherent and more robust. Part of the problem can be attributed to the truly terrible English subtitles (this is a French movie). What I mean, is that there are words in the wrong order or words that don’t make sense strung into a sentence (Tell her to me). Yeah, that was pretty much constant. It’s also a slow-moving film, taking it’s time to actually introduce the vampires, which were suitably creepy but under developed. And then there is the general weirdness of what happens to the vampires when they go into the sun – WTF is up with the floating?
Yah or Nah: I struggle to recommend this one. The concept, tone and the vampires are good, the movie is shot well, but the lack of clear storytelling is tripping me up. As I said, perhaps this is because the subtitles were incoherent. I read on Bloody Disgusting that there is an American remake in the works. Maybe without the language barrier (I have seen plenty of subtitled movies that I like, I can read), it will be easier to follow or perhaps a second viewing would help. Sadly, I will have to say Nah. I wanted something creepy and different but I was disappointed and it just didn’t work for me.