Vampires

1998
9
Director: 
John Carpenter

SYNOPSIS: 

Jack Crow leads a team that hunts vampires on behalf of the Vatican. During the celebrations for the success of a "hunting expedition", something goes wrong: a very ancient and powerful vampire breaks into the room killing everyone except Jack and his faithful friend Montoya. Who revealed their plans to the enemy? And why do the high prelates contradictorily respond to their request for help? The twists and turns are not lacking not only in the development of the plot but also in the psychological evolutions of the protagonists, which remind us of the often fleeting boundaries between true and false, right and wrong, enemy and friend.

REVIEW: 

Jack Crow is much more than a vampire hunter. He is a war machine that considers vampires as the embodiment of Evil and teammates as soldiers to be strictly trained so that they never fail. The Vatican monitors him from afar, assists him through specially trained priests, and supports him economically. This unlikely but functional partnership between this sort of crepuscular cow boy and one of the most important religious institutions in the world undergoes a stop when the ancient and powerful Valek breaks into the room where a vampire hunting party is celebrating, making a killing.

Jack Crow's collaborators all die, except his friend and colleague Anthony Montoya (loyal to the last despite the vampirising wound he desperately seeks to cure). When the Vatican, instead of indulging Jack's thirst for justice and revenge, threatens to dismiss him, the vampire hunter is at a crossroads: should he obey (as the Catholic Church would require), or should he punish vampires at all costs, to honor the promise he made to himself when, as a child, he witnessed the atrocious death of his parents?

Carpenter smartly seizes the opportunity offered by the homonymous novel by John Steakley to play with opposites in a brilliant and unpredictable way, creating an original goth-western atmosphere (as well as an exciting soundtrack!). The nocturnal and rotten "life" of vampires spectacularly contrasts with the diurnal - literally burned by the sun - antagonism of the hunters. The pale vampires, inhuman in their physical strength but rather human in their aspirations, thanks to the tragedy secretly experienced by Montoya, progressively lose their original connotation of monstrosity, insinuating into the viewer some doubts about the real possibility of definitively identifying the border between good and bad, between ourselves and others.

The happy James Wood - Daniel Baldwin pairing (respectively in Jack Crow's and Montoya's roles) represents the alleged purity of the good as opposed to the murky contamination represented by the Montoya - Katrina couple.

Thanks to Wood's masterly and inflexible interpretation, the viewer is more easily induced to identify with the sensitive and duty-bound Montoya, that is the character who allows the psychological evolution of the plot from the original Manichaean point of view.  Through his history, the twilight towards which our paladins move their uncertain steps becomes a metaphor of the other shadow, of Jungian origin, in which people "bury" everything that their consciousness does not consider acceptable or respectable.

Perhaps this is why the film, when it came out in theaters, literally split both the critics and the spectators in two. But as the good Crow finally undestands, there are many forms of good, and sooner or later one of these wins. Even in the form of a career award for a great director, for example (…any resemblance to the Carrosse d'Or - finally - received by Carpenter during the Cannes Film Festival 2019 is, of course, entirely accidental!).

https://www.facebook.com/julie.doublecoconut

OTHER MOVIES REVIEWS

Kairo (Pulse) review

Kairo (Pulse)

2001

It’s safe to say that we’ve created our share of iconic horror characters here in America. Horror icons like Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Michael Myers (Halloween), or Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th) are so highly recognizable, that they’re pretty much synonymous with the mere concept of a horror movie. Even so, no country handles horror quite like Japan does. Japanese horror films have a much-deserved reputation for being exceptionally horrifying and thought-provoking at the same time. You won’t find as many homicidal maniacs gracing genre screens in... Read More

The Black Room Review

The Black Room

2016

When it comes to classic horror tropes – like haunted houses and the dark secrets they hide – there’s definitely more than one way to approach material that is very familiar to the average genre fan by now. More and more modern filmmakers are adopting a cerebral approach and turning their haunted house movies into social commentaries with something larger to say. Others are focused on simply telling a good scary story with plenty of jump scares and special effects. Still more go for an exploitive approach that is almost intentionally trashy. The Black Room could probably... Read More

The Shrine Review

The Shrine

2010

The Shrine is the type of film that comes complete with lots of familiar horror tropes an avid genre lover will recognize. You’ve got the mysterious disappearance of a traveler under mysterious circumstances, as well as a team of people seeking answers as to the details of those circumstances. You’ve got a remote village in a foreign land populated by strange people who raise an eyebrow or two thanks to their mysterious beliefs and practices. Scares, jumps, and mysteries abound as the protagonists attempt to make sense of it all. Given those facts, the plotline of The... Read More

The Curse of La Llorona Review

The Curse of La Llorona

2019

If you’re a fan of the ever-expanding universe of The Conjuring, then it makes sense that The Curse of La Llorona would definitely be on your radar. It is the sixth addition to the franchise, joining other recent hits like The Nun and Annabelle in fleshing out the world first introduced by the original Conjuring back in 2013. It’s also the directorial debut of Michael Chaves (who will also be directing the upcoming Conjuring 3) and is, of course, produced by James Wan. Linda Cardellini (Strangeland), Raymond Cruz (From Dusk Till Dawn 2), Sean Patrick Thomas (Kemper, The... Read More

Pet Sematary Review

Pet Sematary

2019

Whether you’re the type of person who loves remakes or simply the type who loves to hate them, it’s highly likely that 2019’s Pet Sematary is on your radar for one reason or another if you’re into horror. It’s directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (who also directed Starry Eyes) and is, of course, a reboot of the classic Stephen King film Pet Sematary from 1983. Pet Sematary stars Jason Clarke (Winchester, Trust), Amy Seimatz (The Sacrament, You’re Next, Bitter Feast), and the always legendary John Lithgow (Raising Cane, Twilight Zone: The Movie). Those who aren’t... Read More