2012 EZMM: Strigoi (2008)

A column article, Shot For Shot by: Paul Brian McCoy

MERCILESS MONDAY

  • Strigoi
  • Director: Faye Jackson
  • Writer: Faye Jackson
  • 2008 105 min.

Okay, okay. This one's really more about vampires than zombies. I'm not sure how it got on the list, but you know what? Screw that. This was kind of awesome. And these aren't your normal vampires, so I'd argue it's a gray area. I wouldn't argue it vigorously, but hey, it's Easter. Let's not fight.

This is Faye Jackson's first feature length film and it's a UK/Romanian co-production. Essentially what that means is that Jackson is from the UK, her husband is from Romania and it was after visiting the country and hearing loads of contradictory myths and stories about Strigoi (vampires) that the idea came to her.

The film is cast with Romanian actors, all speaking English (for you subtitlephobes out there), and I'll be damned if it isn't just plain bizarre. There's a healthy dose of dark comedy to go along with some moderate gore. On top of that you've got some Communist anxieties that tie in to the history of the village the story takes place in. There's also a healthy paranoia about both the Church and the Government, so I approve whole-heartedly.

I'm not sure what kind of budget they were working with, but this is a pretty film. The lighting is perfect, the set design leaves nothing to be desired, and the sound quality is good – although it is difficult at times to understand what is being said due to the accents. In fact, the only real complaint I have about the film is that for most of the first half I had no idea what was really going on.

Our main character, Vlad (Catalin Paraschiv) returns home to his small Romanian village and discovers that there are some strange things going on. There are vampires, both living and dead – I can't really explain without giving too much away – and someone is buying up all the land. The land buying plot kind of lost me, I admit, but it all works once you get fully into the story.

There are a lot of little things that really make this work; particularly a police officer with dreams of starting a pot farm, the undead's love of cigarettes, and how everyone keeps calling Vlad a pussy because he left medical school after being squeamish about dissecting corpses. There is also a boombox in this film that I would have killed for in Junior High.

This is a charming little film, and not really what I was expecting at all. And not just because it was vampires instead of zombies. The way the Strigoi are imagined here is original and interesting, particularly after what we discover near the end about Vlad and his family. I hope that doesn’t give too much away. It's probably not quite what you're thinking. But you're probably close.

This one's worth a look, even if it's not technically zombies.


Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot, Streaming Pile O' Wha?, and Classic Film/New Blu, all here at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.

 

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