Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blu-ray Review: BLOOD FOR IRINA (2012)


Label: Autonomy Pictures
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 70 Minutes
Rating: unrated
Audio: LPCM 2.0 with Optional French, Spanish Subtitles 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Cast: Shauna Henry, Carrie Gemmell, David Goodfellow, Andre Becker, Jason Tannis, Mark Goodfellow, Brenden Crowells
Director: Chris Alexander

BLOOD FOR IRINA (2012) is the feature film debut from FANGORIA magazine editor Chris Alexander whom also co-produced, edited and co-shot the film in addition to providing the film's creepily seductive score. One might expect a film from the editor of a magazine that revels in gore to be quite a bloodbath but surprisingly this is a more personal and thoughtful vampire film, more along the MIDNIGHT SON (2011) than SUBSPECIES (1991)

Boldly the film is nearly wordless for it's duration as we follows the lonely exploits of a century old vampiress named Irina (Shauna Henry) who resides in a dilapidated seaside motel venturing outside at dark to find sustenance from street urchins. Occasionally a distorted urst of voice-over narration will punctuate the proceedings to accentuate the abstract story arc. Visually Alexander seems to be channeling lyrical style of Euro-sleaze directors Jean Rollin and Jess Franco but more often than not I felt it succumbed to empty art house pretension which lulled be off to slumberland.

Credit where credit is due the director and cinematographer have crafted a striking image on a microbudget, the slow panning shots do conjure up a surreal dreamy atmosphere but there are only so many close-ups of hotel signs and slow walking sequences that I can tolerate in a setting and Blood For Irina exceeded it early on in it's 70 minute running time, it just felt a bit too faux experimental for my tastes. There's a lot of long Gus Van Sant-esque static shots that will appeal to a certain set of film lovers but I guess tonight I'm just looking for something a bit more visceral and frenetic. 

Alexander's score is quite impressive, and it ranges from creepy electronics to haunting piano and strings which perfectly compliment the visual style of the film. At least the audio and the visual elements come together nicely if not to create a compelling story at least to conjure up some surreal atmosphere and a feeling of dread and loneliness. 

As I have said the story itself is pretty threadbare, and while film is surely a visual medium I just could not latch onto the character of Irina for the vague scripting, even when we're exposed to the trauma of her past through flashback I could not feel for her or for her victims, and that's a very serious problem.

Special Features:
- Director’s commentary with Chris Alexander
- R.I.P.: The Riviera Motel(2:21)
- Outtakes and Deleted Scenes (12:56)
- Teaser Trailer (1:06) 
- Theatrical Trailer (2:21) 

Verdict: I do commend Chris Alexander as a first time director who wrote, co-shot, produced and edited the film in addition to scoring it but I found this a difficult watch. I can appreciate that it's going for something quite a bit different from the norm and  with it's 70's Euro influence but BLOOD FOR IRINA (2012) has zero rewatch factor for me. That said,  I do love the score and wouldn't mind owning it and I look forward to what Alexander does next, while it wasn't for me it's not awful either, just not my cup o' tea. 2 Outta 5