Catalin Paraschiv as Vlad Cozma
Rudi Rosenfeld as Nicolae Cozma
Constantin Barbulescu as Constantin Tirescu
Directed by Faye Jackson
Although credited as a vampire movie, Strigoi is far from anything audiences have seen in the genre. Lately, there has been a surge of films or TV shows about our fanged friends, but not many have been praise-worthy and those that have been praised, let’s just say I don’t agree with their kudos. Sure, we had Let The Right One In, but one film out of dozens is not exactly a very good track record.
Thankfully, Faye Jackson has come along and delivered something that is not only original but wonderfully written as well.
Gifted med student Vlad is back in his Romanian village for a little soul searching after a stint in Italy finds him nothing but a dead end job in a fast food joint. Upon his return, he finds the town a little more off kilter than what it was when he left. Local land mogul Consantin has been murdered by the locals including the now appointed mayor and even the village priest who are enjoying the newly distributed wealth. Vlad, being the bright fellow we all hope he is, does a little of his own sleuthing that eventually leads him to having a one-on-one with Constanin himself to the dismay of the townsfolk. What follows is a series of events that lead Vlad to believe that not only are the residents being deceitful yet pleasantly indifferent to what’s going on, but his family is also putting on a thinly veiled secret of their own. After digging many graves (he should really consider a career as a grave digger) Vlad soon discovers that his own life may not be what it has appeared to be and he too may find himself part of the tradition of family lies.
What makes Strigoi stand as a unique film is its take on the vampire mythos. The director makes no point into making this a film that plays the vampire as a seducer or one that strikes fear into its victims, it plays as a charming European mystery that’s subtlety acted, in world that is moving at faster pace than they will like to admit. Now, not being a Romanian or having spent much time in any small European village, Strigoi plays out very convincingly. However, it’s not perfect. Its one downfall may be the pace. I felt that at times a scene would drag for far too long or for no real purpose. Certain events would happen over and over and it can be taxing for the audience. But these are all minor complaints.
Having the world premiere at the Toronto After Dark film festival was a great move as genre fans will appreciate the film for what it is: an offbeat quirky film that breathes new life into an oversaturated market of vampire mythos.