Saturday, July 07, 2007

Fantasia Reviews Pt. 1

Bon Cinema! That's about the extent of my French, it seems. I'm realizing just how good my Spanish has gotten as I think "I could say that in Spanish, but not French" when wanting to communicate to the fine citizens of Montreal. Luckily, I have yet to encounter one person that doesn't or won't speak English.

Running eighteen days in lovely Montreal (of which CdC regular contributer Rich Osmond and I will be attending four), Fantasia 2007 takes over three auditoriums of Concordia College for a butt-numbing, leg-twitching, hootenanny. With audiences comprised of an eclectic mix of film geeks, punks, lolitas, fan boys, and families, the program is comprised as an equally diverse blend of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller, and genres unknown.

PERFECT CREATURE (Glenn Standring, 2006, New Zealand)

Set in an alternate reality wherein vampire-like men are considered saints rather than demons, PERFECT CREATURE is redolent with themes of genetic research, church corruption, and political intrigue. The world of PERFECT CREATURE recalls the early 20th Century with steam-powered automobiles and an outbreak of influenza. Both the flue and “The Brotherhood” (the monastic name for the black clad vampires) are results of genetic tampering: With their extended lives and heightened senses, the Brothers are on the beneficial side while viruses and disease are on the other.

Not only do the Brothers look after the human race like guardian angels, they also have dedicated themselves to engineering better vaccines. Brother Edgar (Leo Gregory) made significant strides to that end before disappearing from the Brotherhood, much to the dismay of his “brother by the same mother,” Silus (Dougray Scott). Edgar has apparently gone mad. He’s gone from saving human lives to destroying them, becoming the first vampire to take a human life.

From there, PERFECT CREATURE feels like a hybrid of BLADE 2 and IN THE NAME OF THE ROSE with its “new type of vampire” meets “church secrets” storyline. Aided in his hunt for Edgar by the lovely, albeit troubled, Lily (an emaciated Saffron Burroughs), Silus races against the clock to find out what made Edgar into a monster.

The film’s rich design is well-paired with writer/director Glenn Standring’s complex script. The characters are fully-formed and well-motivated with the sole exception of Lily’s police partner, Jones (Scott Willis). Not given much to work with via the script, a more charismatic actor would have helped this small, though crucial, role come to life. Otherwise, the performances are solid, especially Gregory who seems to be channeling Christopher Lambert, Klaus Kinski, and James LeGros.

A satisfying cinematic excursion, PERFECT CREATURE provides thrills and contemplative themes in equal measure. – Mike White

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