Description (from strigoimovie.com):
Vlad (Catalin Paraschiv) investigates a mysterious death in his grandfather’s village that raises questions about land ownership in the community. The trail points to ex-communist bully Constantin Tirescu and his wife, but when Vlad confronts them, he discovers that the richest landowners in the village have become real bloodsuckers.
Catalin Paraschiv as Vlad Cozma, Rudi Rosenfeld as Nicolae Cozma, Constantin Barbulescu as Constantin Tirescu, Roxana Guttmann as Ileana Tirescu, Camelia Maxim as Mara Tomsa, Dan Popa as Tudor, Vlad Jipa as Octav, Zane Jarcu as Stefan
None (Screener Copy)
Written and Directed by Faye Jackson
It’s rare to see a movie that is classified as a certain subgenre, in this case a “vampire movie,” and have it be completely different than anything I have seen before within that subgenre. For this particular subgenre, the only flicks that come to mind are NEAR DARK (just because it never says “vampire”) and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (because, well, the whole set up and plot). Now STRIGOI will be added as a vampire movie that is completely different than any other vampire movie; in fact, it’s almost closer to a zombie flick than a vampire movie. I love being surprised.
STRIGOI opens with the town revolting against the former mayor, and by their own authority condemning and executing him and his wife for their crimes. When the shotgun fails, the town executes them via shovel to the skull (I love being surprised!) and dumps them in a shallow grave. According to Romanian legend, those that are killed without cause can come back as a vampire, or strigoi, to drain the life of the living; obviously Constantin (the former mayor) and his wife did not deserve the death penalty, because not long after they are put in the ground they are back… and hungry.
Soon after the village takes out their vengeance, Vlad returns home to his small town life in Romania after failing abroad in Italy. He finds that the town drunk has died from mysterious causes, and his body is being watched over for the traditional three days and nights, to prevent his return as a strigoi. Vlad, who is a fully trained but never practiced doctor, notices the hemorrhages on the drunk’s neck and is suspicious of the “accident” that took his life. It was well known that Constantin wanted the drunk’s land, so Vlad is immediately suspicious (since he was not around for the execution, he is not aware that Constantin and wife are dead). Vlad goes to Constantin’s house, and finds him there, sickly and ravenous. Long story short, Vlad is suspicious of what has been going on in his absence, and sets out to understand how his village has changed.
STRIGOI is obviously a more professional film than a lot that I review. It is apparent that, while not a HD transfer, STRIGOI is shot on film, not video, and has that warm film quality to the picture. The audio is also professional, and is easy to hear and understand throughout. Also, the inclusion of “Spirit in the Sky” tells you right away that there was a least a bit of a budget involved, since this film does has distribution they had to pay for that song! It is a bit odd that this is a film written and shot in English, but set in, shot in, and starring actors from Romania; it’s in English with a Romanian accent. There is not a lot to the production design – it is obviously shot on location in small town Romania and therefore it looks like small town Romania, which is exactly where it is set – but the few gory bits are well done.
Don’t take that last statement wrong; there is a little gore in STRIGOI, and it is technically a vampire film, but this is not a horror. Not in the least. STRIGOI is very much a black comedy, there is nothing horror about it! And it is a funny comedy; though the dialogue is all delivered with a Romanian accent, it is all very natural and written well, and delivered very dryly, which adds to the absurdity of the humor presented. “Do you have any other symptoms,” Vlad asks the newly reanimated Constantin, “besides hunger, insomnia, and wanting me to stick my finger up your ass?”
Overall, I really enjoyed STRIGOI, it was a funny take on a subgenre that is rarely funny, and it took my American notion of what a vampire is and opened my eyes to how different that concept can be elsewhere. Not only was it a technically sound film, but it had a strong script, good acting (especially for the fact that the actors were acting in a second language!), good effects, and good direction. STRIGOI was very nicely done and a very different entry into the vampire subgenre.
Overall 7.5 /10
STRIGOI on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1117636/
STRIGOI for sale: http://www.amazon.com/Strigoi-Undead-Constantin-Barbulescu/dp/B00558Z4UI
STRIGOI site: http://www.strigoimovie.com/