Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
The 2018 crime thriller The Lake Vampire starts with the grizzly news that a girl’s head was found, but the body is still missing. Instantly, the mystery is afoot and the audience is thrust into an investigation of a very specific crime that’s been haunting Venezuela for decades. Stylish and gruesome, this film presents the seediness of crime stories while intermingling the elegance of classic vampire films. Carl Zitelmann’s film The Lake Vampire tells a compelling story that will engage viewers of both crime and horror genres.
Ernesto Navarro, played by Sócrates Serrano, is a struggling writer who is looking for inspiration for his next book. The right motivation comes along when a series of murders implicates one of his novels and he is questioned by the police. Navarro soon begins his own investigation when he begins interviewing retired police detective Jeremias Morales (Miguel Ángel Landa). They soon form a friendship and Morales opens up about two serial killer cases he worked on his youth, both very similar to the recent killings. The ritualistic killings deal with occult symbols, bodies drained of blood, and mysterious killers who believe blood grants them immortality. Are these killings the work of multiple mad men? Or has this been the work of a supernatural being all along?
Zitelmann’s characters are clever men who put the focus on solving the crimes and less on the incredulity of the events. Serrano and Landa play great roles with charisma and charm, making them a likeable pair as they work to unravel the history of the murders. Abilio Torres plays the younger version of Detective Morales and he is perfect for the role of the tough hardened cop. There is a lot of humanity and humor in these characters who are flawed but determined in their quest for justice.
Eduardo Gulino shines as the villain Ramon Perez Bernes. Gulino’s role is heavily inspired by both Universal and Horror film Draculas, with an added touch of Barnabas Collins. Fashionable and erudite, Bernes is a villain who appreciates manners, philosophy, and antique furniture. He looks down on others as lesser beings and considers human nature simplistic. Guilino gives a fun over the top performance and pairs well with Torres’s young Morales as they go back and forth with their cat and mouse game over the years.
The direction and the film have a very 90’s feel that works in the movie’s favor. The 90’s saw a rise in vampire films due to the popularity of Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire, adapted from Anne Rice’s novel of the same name. There are some great out of focus shots and an industrial style soundtrack is reminiscent of the 90’s aesthetic. Incidentally, just like Interview, the film works around a storyteller as well.
The film does have some pacing issues. The film starts off fast and viewers are instantly flung into the story. Yet, after the first hour, the film begins to drag as the tales the past begin to delve deeper into the history. This is not to say that those scenes are not pertinent to the film. They are meaningful moments, but feel like they could have been introduced a bit sooner. Those plot elements also begin to add some predictability to the ending. That being said, the ending still holds many surprises that will delight the viewer as the story comes full circle.
The Lake Vampire delivers on mystery, suspense, and horror. A dynamic story drives enigmatic characters and keeps the viewer engrossed in this very bloody and gross film.
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