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July 02, 2013

Blood for Irina

blood for irina 1.jpg

Chris Alexander - 2012
Autonomy Pictures Regions ABC BD

The best preparation for viewing Blood for Irina might be to know that it is not a vampire movie in any traditional sense. While there is something of a story, it's more of an extended mood piece. If you're looking for a more traditional narrative film, this isn't it. Irina doesn't conform to some of the more common notions of a vampire, certainly with one scene from her past when she claims her victim in broad daylight.

The film might be better described as a series of dream images, of the title character wandering though a depopulated city at night, luring her male victims to their doom at the decrepit, possibly abandoned, motel that's her home. Sleep is in a blue bath tub. There appears to be an inner conflict. In one of the few voice-over comments from Irina, she says, "I drink blood. I breathe blood.", yet there are several scenes of her spitting blood in a sink, a suggestion that her body is in rebellion with her spirit.

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What also characterizes Blood for Irina as being removed from traditional narrative films is that it is dialogue free. There are a few moments of voice-over comments, so few that had the film been made about ninety years ago or so, there would be very little difference with the inclusion of title cards. There is much use of sound, whether from nature, such as the waves of a nearby beach, wind through the trees, and breathing, as well as a soundtrack that ranges from electronica to classical music. Some of the harsher electronic sounds help emphasize the sense of alienation, the pervasive disconnectedness of the film's few characters.

Chris Alexander, better known as the Editor in Chief of Fangoria magazine has spoken of his influences elsewhere. In the title role, Shauna Henry might remind some of the languid vampires that wander around in Jean Rollin's films. Alexander's biggest strength is his sense of imagery, he was one of the two cinematographers. To be sure, the sight of a female blood sucker walking the night with a pair of sunglasses is a cliche, though it works here, perhaps because Shauna Henry is not conventionally attractive, and her gaze is suggestive of a junkie rather than a vampire.

This is a good looking effort for "no-budget" filmmaking. For myself, this is preferable to the wave of "found footage" movies of youngsters lost in the woods, an insane killer on the loose, and . . . you can guess the rest. The Blu-ray (and there is only a Blu-ray disc version) comes with director's commentary, deleted scenes, and a short bit documenting the destruction of the Riviera Motel, where much of the film was shot.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 2, 2013 08:50 AM