I would love it, for once, that we could get at least another well-produced film about evil vampires. Evil, scary predators. Not just immortals with extensional hang-ups and a biting and blood play fetish.
This is not a complaint about Blood from Stone by the way. It’s just a general problem I have with modern vampire films in general. When I watch a vampire film, I usually want to be scared by the mythological creature, not the inherent degradation of the human condition that paints morality as a fleeting response to the current zeitgeist.
Blood from Stone is a western thriller. That happens to be about vampires. Vampires trying to deal with life in the 21st Century. It’s as if Sam Peckinpah directed Only Lovers Left Alive. It’s one of those one-person independent productions, with filmmaker Geoff Ryan taking on many of the roles, like Robert Rodriguez.
The permanently youthful Darya (Gabriella Toth) is working the nightshift as a waitress in a Vegas casino. Hiding in plain sight, she survives on a diet of blood bags from the local hospital. It’s not great, but it’s honest. But her peace and budding romance with a doctor, Raymond (Eric Cotti), is shattered by the arrival of her former lover, Jure (Vanja Kapetanovic). Without Darya, Jure can barely function and has turned fallen into alcoholism. He needs Darya to help him deal with a world outpacing him. And without her, he falls back into old habits that put everyone at risk. As the body count starts to rise, Darya calls on Jure’s sister Viktoria (Nika Khitrova) to sort out her bother. But as the police close in, Darya slips back into old ways as Raymond discovers her past, while Jure and Viktoria wallow about old days and what they’ve been reduced to.
The problem with Blood from Stone is that it’s too long for what we have. There are scenes where nothing really happens. In the scene when Jure and Viktoria visit a dive bar, we get a build-up that we don’t need. It’s not like an earlier scene, one of the best in the film when Jure and a terrified Uber driver have a tense, drawn-out conversation about the nature of the 21st Century and America. Or the montage of Jure hunting, it goes on longer than it needs to. It’s not a fast-paced film, but when stuff happens, it has a steady tempo. At least 10 minutes should have been cut off, and it would be a tighter film with more impact and nothing lost.
So, beyond that…I generally did enjoy it. The characters and actors are brilliant with real chemistry. Darya still loves Jure but knows she has to leave him to have her own life. Sure, it has the dreaded “As you remember” which is the death of many films, but beyond that, there is some excellent dialogue. Jure, desperate for the old days when things made sense for a vampire is not the sad ramblings of a drunken has-been, but the melancholy pain of a burnout. While Viktoria is happy to live off the blood of refugees in Greece, carrying so little for human life, you get the impression that Jure, despite all he does, cares about people. Forcing his victims to drink vodka and take drugs is both him trying to get high and dull the pain for all involved. Darya, meanwhile, in her attempt to live among mortals lies to herself that she can have the life that Darya and Viktoria stole from her when she was turned. It’s painful at times because she knows, deep down, that she can’t have it, but like a drunk sinner in confession, she’s trying to atone.
Don’t go in expecting this to be a horror. It’s a romantic tragedy. We have seen plenty with vampires but, with the aforementioned 10 minutes needing cut, this is one of the good ones.
Dir: Geoff Ryan
Scr: Geoff Ryan
Cast: Gabriella Toth, Vanja Kapetanovic, Nika Khitrova, Eric Cotti
Prd: Michael Caradonna, Geoff Ryan
DOP: Geoff Ryan
Music: Geoff Ryan
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blood From Stone is available on VOD now