June 2005

The Voice Inside

The Voice Inside Where do I start with this film? There really isn’t a plot to speak of; instead we are subjected to 13 minutes of self-inflicted psychopathic violence.

The protagonist (Elias) is tormented by the voice inside his head – and the voice won’t leave him alone. And when he resorts to drugs to try and silence the voice, it reacts violently. Very violently.

The voice becomes increasingly belligerent, driving the protagonist to ever more extreme levels of self harm, culminating in a scene that is physically painful to watch.

The Voice Inside is a darkly humorous - and deeply disturbing - exploration of insanity, self harm and one man’s fight with his personal demons.

Crisply shot in black and white, The Voice Inside successfully sets out to turn your stomach and make you squirm. There is also a very black sense of humour running through the film, making it a must see for anyone who likes their cinema dark and surreal.

On the downside, there isn’t much time for characterisation, the lack of which leaves you a step removed from the suffering of the protagonist. It’s a disturbing film, but could have been a whole lot more so if a bit of time had been spent upfront winning some empathy from the audience for the protagonist so that we really felt his pain.

However, The Voice Inside is a very well made, very dark and deeply disturbing film. If writer/director, BiFF JUGGERNAUT manages to maintain the same visual sense, nihilistic humour and uncompromising violence over the course of a longer – more narrative – film, I shall probably never sleep again.

Night of the Vampire Hunter

Night of the Vampire Hunter DVD Cover Henry Gloom (Stefan Keseberg) is the writer behind a successful series of pulp novels – the Nightshade series, which seeks to resurrect the vampire myth with new, more modern and – consequently – more frightening rules.

Of course, Henry doesn’t believe in vampires himself – they’re just fantasy.

Henry Gloom however, is an act – a leather clad image to keep his audience happy. When he goes home, he goes back to being plain old, cardigan wearing Jens Feldner who is both more conventional and more interesting than Henry Gloom.

There is also a serial killer on the loose – called the Night Stalker by the popular press – whose victims and locations seem to be completely random. And, as is revealed in the opening sequence of the film, plans are afoot already to make a Night Stalker film.

Of course, what is also shown in the opening sequence is that the Night Stalker is neither a conventional serial killer, nor are the victims as random as they appear. The Night Stalker is the vampire hunter referred to in the title of this film.

What’s more, the Night Stalker – unknown to Jens – is his girlfriend, Selin (Nicole Müller). And, the rules laid down by the Nightshade series of books seem surprisingly accurate

Night of the Vampire Hunter is a film that effectively updates the vampire myth for the 21st century. All of the Christian trappings are gone – garlic, holy water and crucifixes are all useless. On the other hand, vampires are no longer counts in castles, nor are they invulnerable to stabbings, shootings, or anything else that would stop a person.

Instead, vampires are presented as powerful, existing – inevitably, due to the way in which they come into being – in very small numbers and essentially parasitical. They prey on people on the margins of society – people that are unlikely to be missed – and, when a city becomes too crowded, they move on.

And it’s this deromanticising of the vampire myth that makes it so effective. Even when we meet someone who aspires to become a vampire, it quickly becomes apparent that his motivation is more a desire to escape his mundane 9 to 5 existence than anything else.

All of this combines to make Night of the Vampire Hunter a refreshingly original – and genuinely unnerving – vampire film. It’s also an excellently scripted and very well acted film with enough twists along the way to not only keep gripped, but also to keep you constantly guessing as to what is going to happen next.

And it it’s gore you’re looking for, Night of the Vampire Hunter delivers in spades. The film also has a very grainy look which adds hugely to the generally downbeat manner in which the vampires are portrayed.

Night of the Vampire Hunter is an intelligent, well paced take on the vampire myth and a welcome addition to the horror genre. The talent, enthusiasm and dry wit of the filmmakers constantly comes through, enabling them to successfully pull apart existing stereotypes and then rebuild them in new and frightening ways.

As Henry Gloom suggests, early on in the film, if you can demystify vampires and wipe away the dust, then we can all be scared in vampires again. Night of the Vampire Hunter demonstrates the truth of this superbly.