2002 - R - 108 Mins.
|Director: Jorge Olguín
|Producer: Jorge Olguín
|Written By: Carolina García and Jorge Olguín
|Starring: Juan Pablo Ogalde, Blanca Lewin, Patricia L
|Review by: Jennie Kermode
|Official Site: www.sangreterna.cl/
Shot in Chile on a shoestring budget, 'Sangre Eterna' or 'Eternal Blood' provides an exquisite showcase for newcomer Olguín's talents as a director, and a nail in the coffin of his screenwriting career. A consummate illustration of everything that's wrong with the modern vampire film, this movie is visually sophisticated and ambitious, beautiful to look at, without having any real substance whatsoever.
The plot, such as it is, follows a group of teenaged outcasts who role play together and fantasize about the romantic life of vampires, their initially harmless obsessions supported by internet sites. At first this looks like the introduction to a Jack Chick rant, but all of the characters are portrayed with sympathy, even if they don't have much depth. Loner Carmilla (Lewin) dresses awkwardly in black in an attempt to impress Neo-wannabe M (Ogalde), but soon finds that she fits into their desired lifestyle better than he does. The girls' interest in social climbing and asserting themselves as adults leads the group first into goth clubs, where their lack of sophistication rapidly becomes clear, and then into the hands of predatory hangers-on who find that vulnerability appealing. But just what kind of predators these are remains unclear. Are there really vampires around, committing grisly murders, or is M simply losing his mind? The story flits between these possibilities, managing to remain surprisingly engaging as it does so, perhaps because it's all so clumsy. What's tired and cliched in psychological horror still offers some room for maneouvering in unintentional comedy. The earnest pretentiousness of the young cast, in this context, only adds to their charm.
'Sangre Eterna' is beautifully shot, with some stunning cinematography and superb use of colour which references the Italian horror maestros. It is beautifully costumed, with the gun-toting clergy particularly memorable. However, none of this can entirely compensate for the fact that it is fundamentally a really *bad* film. The acting is dreadful. As Carmilla's mother, soap-opera star Consuela Holzapfel comes across like Terry Jones in pantomime. The special effects could have been put together by a five year old - they're fun, but one cannot take them seriously. The dialogue is hokey, and there's simply not enough story here for the time taken in the telling. The English-dubbed version is enlivened somewhat by even worse voice actors, and yet the film does *seem* to be taking itself seriously. It's unclear to what extent audiences are supposed to sympathise with the sort of obsessive game geeks whom game geeks routinely look down on. At the very least, these awkward youngsters should set off the older characters, making them seem more glamourous and self-possessed, yet this fails too as the latter are presented to us in a series of staccato poses, rarely getting the chance to speak, apparently so caught up in their own image that little else matters to them. And if vampirism means so little to them, why should *we* care?
If you're looking for a cheesy vampire flick to enjoy with a few friends and a lot of alcohol, you could do a lot worse than to choose 'Sangre Eterna' If you're looking for horror art, let's hope that Olguín can do better next time. This one isn't going to live forever.