Embrace of the Vampire (review)

We all know Embrace of the Vampire as a 1995 cult favorite that starred a much 944fac3706ab9412c4b05dce360bbcd2younger Alyssa Milano along with Martin Kemp and Charlotte Lewis. Now 2013 sees a remake. One can confidently expect almost any halfway-successful vampire film to get the remake treatment these days. So how is it?

Well, to start with it barely qualifies as remake. A few elements, a character’s name and the title pretty much make up the input of the original.

Sharon Hinnendael plays Charlotte Hawthorne, a virgin (or so everyone assumes) freshman at college. She’s got issues, not least being an orphan and shy, as well as a medical condition (involving blood of course) that requires a lot of meds.  One side effect of past trauma and tension might be hallucinations, but as I pointed out in my review of The Moth Diaries, we don’t believe that for a second. This is a vampire movie. Our assumption (correct) will always be that she’s having visions or seeing something real.

So, ultimately, we’re left with a fairly formulaic thriller. Charlotte’s fate is wrapped up in some past transgression (which makes her a dhampir), about which she’s told by a gypsy-esque character fate has put in her way (and who survives just long enough to EmbraceVampFeatspew some exposition).  The vampire himself doesn’t want to feed from her, but for her to give herself willingly to him. Along the way, anyone who gets in the way dies. Violently. Meanwhile nubile naked young females wander into view at every opportunity.

Watching this film, one sees the positive qualities of the original. In that flick, Charlotte hasn’t just arrived in college but has real friends there. Even a real boyfriend, who would like to have sex but she’s reluctant, although tempted.  The vampire in that one becomes a dream lover, an incarnation of everything she’s suppressing. Here, he’s just some hot guy with bristling muscles. Original-Charlotte very nearly has a lesbian fling, one she kinda/sorta stumbles into involving another student who is everything a virgin-embraceofthevampire2013_01on-the-verge might find fascinating. Remake-Charlotte just gets drunk and starts making out with another girl (and they do go all the way). Likewise the first film looks like a film–it uses shadows, includes varying sources of light, and texture to the scenes. This flick looks like a t.v. show, with strong light sources flooding the area with a steady glare. Likewise, there’s the steady formula that Charlotte and all the “good” girls are blonde, but the guys and morally questionable females are all brunette. In terms of cinematography, one soon figures out that slow shot will contain nothing of interest, but that a rapid cut means action. It makes for an uninteresting–although not actually bad–experience. It is pretty to watch. The actors can at least say their lines coherently, and seem to be both thinking and feeling most of the time. The ending has a very mild surprise, while the “mystery” is pretty easy to figure out with the red herrings fairly obvious.

By david

David MacDowell Blue blogs at Night Tinted Glasses.  He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory and is the author of The Annotated Carmilla. and Your Vampire Story (And How to Write It) as well as a theatrical adaptation of Carmilla.

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