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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Styria" or "The Curse of Styria")

 

directed by Mauricio Chernovetzky, Mark Devendorf
USA/Hungary 2014

 

In 1989, English art historian Dr. Hill (Stephen Rea, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) travels behind the Iron Curtain with his daughter Lara (Eleanor Tomlinson, THE ILLUSIONIST) to Styria and a medieval castle turned sanitarium closed and uninhabited since 1917. The castle is set for demolition by the communist government - represented by the sinister General Spiegel (Jacek Lenartowicz, KATYN) - so Hill has just ten days to restore and remove two murals (as well as a rumored hidden third one) to preserve the legacy of an artist commissioned to paint them at the santiarium before dying of consumption. Lara - who has been kicked out of boarding school because of a violent attack she attributes to a shadowy figure who has terrorized her since she was a child - is depressed and self-injurious until she witnesses an attempted hit-and-run by the general's car on young Carmilla (model Julia Pietrucha). Without her father's knowledge, Lara brings Carmilla into the castle and treats her injuries. In turn, Carmilla reveals to Lara the secrets of the castle including the crypt unearthed behind one of the murals and local legends of the land fed by virgin blood. The general comes in search of the girl who he describes as an unstable orphan that the locals believe to be a thieving gypsy or a witch. When the general catches Carmilla alone, she appears to kill herself to escape his clutches only to then show up for another nocturnal romp with Lara. When local girls begin to go crazy and commit suicide, the town elders blame Lara who discovers that an age old epidemic of virgin suicides is repeating itself and Carmilla may be the cause.

Released stateside as ANGELS OF DARKNESS, the original title of this American/Hugarian co-production (with additional unit footage shot in Poland) STYRIA should clue vampire literature fans from the get-go that this is a modern adaptation of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's novella "Carmilla" (adapted many times including Roger Vadim's BLOOD AND ROSES, Camillo Mastrocinque's TERROR IN THE CRYPT, and Vicente Aranda's THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE as well as the basis of Hammer's VAMPIRE LOVERS with the character resurrected again for LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF EVIL) long before it is cited in the opening credits. The backstory involving the former sanitarium, the murals, and their painter needlessly drags out the first act even as it is underdeveloped (Carmilla's mentions of the virgin suicides every one hundred years can be interpreted as jokes or references to local folklore made to frighten Laura). When the film finds its rhythm, it is a nice throwback to pre-TWILIGHT modern vampire films (including the indie ones of the nineties), and it might have been more interesting and successful had it actually been made closer to the era in which it is set (like the SUBSPECIES films shot in post-communist Romania). Although blood is spilled and apparently drunk, the film does not use the word vampire even though the locals stuff the dead girls' mouths with garlic and decapitate them. Elements of the Le Fanu story are reworked into the new scenario, although not always for the better (Hill's colleague and his daughter are not able to come to the castle because they are not allowed across the border whereas the daughter was the vampire's previous victim in the source story) and the film finds a different explanation for the "beautiful visitor" in Lara's bed as a child ultimately related to her current glum, self-cutting, alternative music-listening demeanor. The end result is a gorgeous-looking, visually stylish but empty picture which attempts to shoehorn in psychological and emotional resonance into an already-cluttered scenario - which has no idea what to do with Erika Marozsán's fetching tutor character - while trying simultaneously to be suggestive. Parts of the picture including the ending (minus the surprise reveal) recall THE EIGHTEENTH ANGEL - scripted by THE OMEN's David Seltzer - another modern horror film about a another western father and daughter encountering superstition and age old evil in the European countryside.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 21 August 2014 (Mexico)

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DVD Review: Revolver Entertainment - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Revolver Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:39:12
Video

1.73:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.79 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Revolver Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.73:1

Edition Details:
� none

DVD Release Date: February 24th, 2015
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments

Revolver's DVD features a single-layer, anamorphic transfer of this Arri Alexa-lensed (with Technicolor digital intermediate) feature that looks appropriately softish for the mood of the film but some edge sharpening is apparent in some of the better lit shots (and may just be obscured in the darker, softer ones). Audio is offered in an effective Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track. I'm not sure if it was a 5.1 film, but the stereo mix balances the dialogue, effects, and music nicely. Some Hungarian dialogue is translated with non-removable subtitles. There are no extras, although the introductory montage to the main menu looks like it might have been a snippet of the film's trailer.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Revolver Entertainment

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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