I had no idea what to expect when given access to a new movie by Fangoria’s Chief Editor, Chris Alexander, entitled BLOOD FOR IRINA. But the opening frames were enough to captivate me. The mischievous sounding classical music that accompanied the mesmerizing sight of blood liberally interspersing with clear liquid effortlessly conveyed a sense of surrealism.

In the delightfully artistic 70 minutes that followed, dialogue was notably absent as the plight of our female vampiric protagonist Irina is narrated by a measured, yet never dull, flow of striking imagery. Accompanied by an equally haunting and, at times disturbing, soundtrack, BFI is a bold and darkly unusual debut.

It seems immortality has paradoxically taken its toll on Irina (Shauna Henry) who now resides in a decaying coastal motel. Decades of enforced isolation has tarnished her sanity.

Her nightmarish existence, already awash with lurid reminisces and driven by her nocturnal pursuit of blood, is hampered further still by a mysterious malady that is torturously omnipresent in her macabre life.

But her wretched lifestyle is not without peers. Irina has perversely recruited the almost enslaved loyalty of the Motel’s nameless manager, who devotedly serves her by meticulously scrubbing away the damning crimson evidence of her nightly hunts.

Then there is Pink (Carrie Gemmell), a human female with an equally calloused soul. She too operates at night seeking riches from the sparsely inhabited streets. But it is cash not blood she craves, as she markets her flesh to feed her drug addiction amidst stark glow of street lamps she leans against. Seemingly named after the cerise wig she sports, the prostitute is positively besotted with Irina. But if the immortal can succumb to disease, what hope for the earthly lost souls of the night...?

At the time of writing the only access I had to Alexander’s fascinating film was an online stream. Being a self-confessed fan of all things Jean Rollin, I will definitely be eager to secure a copy of the Blu Ray when its multi-territory release date swings round.

Comparisons with the late enigmatic French director are evident in many observers of the movie but it is important to stress that BFI does not merely present as a contemporary Rollin imitation. While it has an arty style to it, Alexander’s movie still remains a grittily original picture. There was a healthy amount of blood attributed to the movie yet this was fashioned innovatively throughout. A real sense of repulsion accompanied the gore conveyed by vomiting as well as traditional vampiric consumption. Then there was the authentic aftermath concept employed by means of blood-stained hair and teeth that gave certain scenes a voyeuristic feel.

It had an alluring aesthetic throughout accentuated with razor sharp visuals. It meant no "grindhouse style" post production gimmicks were required to roughen up the feel of the movie. A setting complete with scum scorched bathrooms and decaying bedrooms rooms were genuinely unsettling and offered the ideal canvas over which to lay the artistically filmed set pieces. On the flip side of these were the striking uses of colours. Even grey clouds and skies were skilfully made to look vibrant and hallucinogenic while blinding sunlight served to create a feeling of disorientation.

In a divergent aspect of the movie, intimate shots of the characters interlaced the visual experience. The expressive close ups of hands and eyes united us with the screen. Near the movies climax for example, there is a scene where the camera lingers on a harrowing shot of Irina is simply staring which although is simple in principle is so intensely filmed it comes across as almost intrusive!

Beyond the creative visual experience, the film’s slow burning but enthralling pace created an unsettling ambience. The impression it left me with conveyed a feeling of loneliness, a facet I feel has been often neglected in more fashionable and glamorous vampire cinema.

The movie’s style was arguably opposed to what would be expected from an editor of a mainstream Horror magazine’s first venture. But this audaciousness really struck a chord with me. While the distinct style could have transmitted as pretentious, the grimy realism of the picture along with the honed run time ultimately worked a treat.

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Released by Autonomy Pictures/TLA Releasing
Region 2
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review