When I first heard about Therapy For A Vampire I somehow gave myself the mistaken impression that it was another mock-doc comedy, and my first thought was ‘who the hell would try that so soon after What We Do In The Shadows?’ Especially as the same format had been used very well for the sorely underseen Vampires (2010). This film isn’t like either of those movies, apart from the fact that it’s funny. It is, in fact, very funny.
Tobias Moretti plays a Count who has fallen out of love with his wife. He yearns for the love he lost many years ago. Jeanette Hain is his wife, a woman being driven almost to the point of madness by her inability to see her own reflection. Cornelia Ivancan is Lucy, a young woman who is dating an artist named Viktor (Dominic Oley). Whenever Viktor paints Lucy he just can’t help changing her into some kind of fantasy figure, something that she always resents. Oh, and Lucy obviously resembles the lost love that the Count yearns for. If he can keep his wife preoccupied with the artist then maybe he can find a way to convince Lucy that she’s a much older soul in a young body.
If you can remember such dubious vampire comedies as Love At First Bite and Once Bitten then you may be as pleasantly surprised as I was to find that writer-director has taken those hokey templates and used them to create something hugely entertaining, beautifully visualised and surprisingly smart. Obvious gags mix with more subtle humour, and the energetic script is often working on at least two levels. The comedy on display ranges from Woody Allen-esque to Carry On style, yet it is intertwined so neatly that it all works perfectly in each scene. And the detailing of the environments that the characters inhabit, and also their swift and physics-defying movements, is another major plus point that helps to couch the comedy (no pun intended) in a movie reality that allows viewers to completely suspend their disbelief.
All of the cast do great work too, playing the scripted comedy well without trying to force anything extra from their performances. Moretti and Hain are equally convincing whether they are baring their fangs or baring some insecurities. Ivancan and Oley are likable, even when they’re trying to spite one another as their relationship travels its bumpy road, and Karl Fischer, Erni Mangold and Lars Rudolph are all highly entertaining as, respectively, Dr. Sigmund Freud, a nosey neighbour, and the man employed as a driver by the Count.
I don’t want to oversell this film to you, but I also feel that it NEEDS to be oversold, for fear that it will otherwise disappear into undeserved obscurity. Every element, from the shot transitions to the score to the various special effects, has been treated with great care to produce an end result that can happily lie in the coffin situated directly alongside What We Do In The Shadows. I don’t care if people who see this refer to it as “the OTHER great vampire comedy from 2014”, as long as they see it and recommend it to others.
Therapy For A Vampire is screening at EIFF 2015 on 19th and 20th June.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: DAVID RUHM
STARS: TOBIAS MORETTI, JEANETTE HAIN, CORNELIA IVANCAN, DOMINIC OLEY, KARL FISCHER
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX