Ugh. Not another vampire movie.
“This guy’s turning. You know that, right?”
“Damn it, Vik, I was still drinking that.”
— Jure to his sister Viktoria, after she cuts him off
See. This isn’t another vampire movie. So drop that critical stake at the crypt’s threshold, Van Helsing. The caped debonair of Christopher Lee isn’t in there. And neither is the bad-boy dreaminess of Edward Cullen. Nor the anti-superhero backflipping antics of Blade. Or the Brat Packery of Near Dark. For this isn’t your grandfather’s Hammer atmosphere-over-gore vampire flick lurking in that web-strewn sarcophagus. And while it’s bloody, like your father’s CGI gore-over-atmosphere plasma soirées, this is a new vampire flick for a new generation. And this isn’t a horror film. This is a melancholy, neo-noir romantic thriller.
Blood from Stone is a new breed of undead chronicle: a philosophical vampire flick told from the perspective of the cursed ones who deal with the fact that they’re “living” forever. And that, in an ever-changing world, it’s become more difficult for them to exist in modern society. And as hard as they try, in spite of their soulless state, to love and be loved , they’ll never lead the ordinary, conventional lives of the mortals upon which they feed.
Faced with the hopelessness, the immortals in this flick do what mere mortals do in times of personal failures and emotional defeat: become empty vessels of drug and alcohol-induced self-destruction, seasoned with emotional and physical outbursts. And when you’re existing in a spiritual limbo, that self-destruction is even more deadly. Just like mortal junkies — even though you’re six-feet under and living above ground — your “life” also spirals out of control and takes you down, ever deeper: to rock bottom.
“Listen, it’s your choice. Destruction or creation. Vengeance or forgiveness.”
— Viktoria giving Jure a heart-to-heart
So goes the lonely, emotionally-trapped existence of these existential, co-dependent and addiction-afflicted vampires that are never leaving Las Vegas. How sad is their existence? Darya (up-and-coming Hungarian actress Gabriella Toth), the vampire bride of Jure Alilovic (former Serbian MMA fighter Vanja Kapetanovic), hates who she is. The pain she suffers isn’t from her undead state — but the emotionally abusive relationship she endures at the hands of her reckless husband. It’s bad enough that he’s a vampire with a thirst for blood: he’s a vampire with an addiction to drugs and alcohol . . . and he satiates his dual-addiction by feeding on the chemically-altered blood of the drunk and the stoned. Mortals pass out amid empty bottles, dispensed needles, and the stench of bong water. Jure passes out amid blood-emptied bodies. His wealthy family, weary of his selfish co-dependence, threatens to cut him off.
In her quest for a life of normalcy, one of husbands and kids, Darya runs off to Sin City, gets a job in a Casino bar as “Nikko Dee,” and meets mortal men — with the hopes of a husband (which she finds in the arms of a surgeon at the hospital where she steals blood). She babysits for her co-workers and pines for her own children. And, as in any mortal obsessive-abusive relationship, Jure can’t let Darya go. And if he can’t have her, no one can. Now he’s on violent bender leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake.
One may have a hard time with the thick, Eastern European accents of Vanja Kapetanovic and his co-star, Russian actress Nika Khitrova, who stars as his sister Viktoria. And your steaming-conditioning with most indie-horrors (of the sometimes direct-to-video variety) clocking in at the usual 80-minutes may be tried with this film’s almost-two hour run time. But those points aren’t deal breakers: Kapetanovic and Khitrova are very good here, as is Gabriella Toth (who speaks in non-accented English), and their accents lend to authenticity-acceptance in the central Euro-birthright of the characters.
“If I wasn’t in love with you, I would have killed you already.”
— Nikko to Raymond, her surgeon-boyfriend
As I appreciated the against-the-low budget art design and cinematography of writer-director Geoff Ryan’s reimaging of the vampire myth, I recalled my appreciation of Blair Murphy’s indie-art house vamp romp Jugular Wine. That 1994 shot-on-video passion project, as with Ryan’s digitally-shot take on the genre, also aspired to create a tale that tore down the usual graveyard tropes and strip club clichés of most modern vampire flicks. The mileage of your own, modern vamp romp comparisons, however, may vary.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard from writer-director Geoff Ryan. Blood from Stone is his third feature film. He made his debut with the war drama Fray (2014) and the online shopping-addiction comedy Haul Oh! (2016). Also a veteran of six shorts and seven film festival wins, he’s currently in production on his forth feature, the thriller-noir, Brother’s Keeper.
Other recent releases from the Indie Rights Films catalog we’ve reviewed include Banging Lanie, The Brink (Edge of Extinction), Double Riddle, The Girls of Summer, Gozo, Loqueesha, Making Time, and Mnemophrenia.
Disclaimer: We did not receive a review request for this film. We discovered the trailer on social media and requested a screener. And we truly enjoyed the film.