LIFF29 - Therapy For A Vampire - Cinema Review

'A fun if largely forgettable gothic farce'.

Whilst the horror genre as a whole has struggled to find a strong footing for much of the 21st Century, the subcategory of vampire films has arguably continued to see considerable success. Through both mainstream Hollywood, such as the Twilight and Underworld franchises, and cult international offerings, including Let The Right One In and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, vampires have endured perhaps better than any other supernatural beings on screen.

Vampire comedies more specifically run the gamut of quality; one need only look at recent releases for ample evidence. Last year's What We Do In The Shadows, for example, proved a critical success as well as a doing not inconsiderable business at the box office, whilst other less successful efforts have already been rightfully consigned to oblivion (2010's Vampires Suck, anyone? Didn't think so). Which brings us to Austrian release Therapy For A Vampire, a film which feels as though it shoots safely right down the middle of these two extremes and for the most part succeeds in its aim.

There's nothing wrong with Therapy For A Vampire, but there's also little within the film to make it stand out in any way, making for a fun if largely forgettable gothic farce. Writer and director David Rühm feels happy to craft a film that is unadventurous in its ideas, but that is enjoyable whilst it lasts and never outstays its welcome, clocking in as it does at just under the ninety minute mark.

Despite its title, the therapy element of Rühm's film emerges as its most underutilised. After bringing together the potentially fruitful pairing of disenchanted vampire Count Geza von Közsnöm (Tobias Moretti) and his psychiatrist, who just happens to be Dr. Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer), the director chooses to push this set-up to one side for much of the film. Instead, his main focus becomes a fanciful plot centred around Geza's pursuit of Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan), whom he believes to be the reincarnation of his first wife, alongside his current wife Elsa's (Jeanette Hain) relationship with artist Viktor (Dominic Oley), who just happens to be Lucy's boyfriend.

It's the kind of screwball romantic plot that has been done countless times before, propped up by some winning performances from the cast and occasional well-executed sequences of physical comedy. Whilst the wordplay never feels quite as successful, Rühm does manage to plant a few novel ideas into his screenplay - a running joke about vampires obsessively having to pick up and count anything they drop is particularly original and used well. In the end, even if Therapy For A Vampire never threatens to become anyone's favourite horror comedy, it's entertaining and consistent enough to feel like a worthwhile addition to the subgenre.

The 29th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 5th-19th November 2015 at venues around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House, Cottage Road Cinema and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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