Short Film Showcase: Cold Blood
Dir. Peter Ferris
Shot in and around Belfast last winter, Cold Blood is the second in an, as yet, unfinished trilogy of short films charting the exploits of the fiendish Elias Mortenson (Peter Ferris) as he travels the world forcefully recruiting vampires under the guise of an acting coach/agent. Certain scenes were also filmed in beautifully eerie locations such as the ancient stone circle of Avebury in Wiltshire, and Rennes Le Chateau in France. Working as a stand alone film, Cold Blood hinges on some fertile ideas – particularly in its exploration of the tribulations of a group of young people, unwillingly turned into vampires and attempting to resist their new blood-thirsty instincts to kill and maim (recalling the chilling plight of Claudia from Interview with the Vampire). The makeshift family they create echoes that of the clan in Near Dark – and of course the concept of vampires attempting to reform has been explored in the likes of Twilight and True Blood.
Aspects of Oliver Twist, Lord of the Flies and any number of recent vampire films in which the fanged-ones reject their thirst for blood swirl throughout proceedings. The narrative is a little unclear however, and the pacing muddled – particularly in the numerous scenes featuring the younger cast addressing their dire situation through mainly improvised dialogue. It always feels like it is only part of a bigger picture (what with it being the second instalment of a trilogy) and is hampered slightly by muddied sound quality and issues with lighting – no doubt stemming from its ultra-low budget.
The film boasts decent performances from its mainly young cast; though the scenes in which they improvise much of their dialogue could have been reigned in and tightened up. There are also a number of menacing performances from some of the older actors, particularly Eugene Hynes as the sinister and Faganesque patriarch Papa Eugene, Martin Lasch as the roguish boxing trainer (these young vamps apparently need to learn how to protect themselves in their dark new world!) and Aki Buhidma (who also shares co-writing duties) as one of the more pro-active of the tentative 'vamplings.'
The Belfast setting lends the film a gritty veneer and several scenes shot with night-vision in which the characters attempt to ‘nocturnalise’ themselves, also provide some creepy imagery. There are a number of rather interesting ideas that are never really fleshed out though – like vampires attempting to cover their tracks by making their bloodbaths look like the result of paramilitary attacks.
The deranged opening (a flashback to events in the first film?) features the character of Mortenson claiming his victims in a drama class, and hints at a juicy but never fully realised subtext of how the film industry literally sucks the life out of those desperate to become stars of the screen.