Not Like Others
The term 'Swedish vampire film' wouldn't really have gathered much attention several years ago and may even have conjured images of Ingrid Pitt (or the like) in some high camp horror flick but, thanks to the critical and commercial success ofLet the Right One In, those three words will have the attention of any horror fan. I imagine, then, that Peter Pontikis will be extremely grateful to Tomas Alfredson and his modern masterpiece asNot Like Others (original title Vampyrer) is the sort of film that may have just fallen by the wayside but is now drawing comparisons with Alfredson's great film and others like The Hunger and Martin as a thoughtful, intelligent and more realistic take on the vampire legend.
Set in the suburbs of Stockholm, the film follows sisters Vera and Vanja, both vampires, who barely have two kroner to rub together because their antisocial hours make them unemployable. They therefore have to survive by living on the margins of society, stealing from those they kill and, when blood is a shortage, stealing it from hospitals.
One night, they are trying to keep warm in a nightclub when a biker gang comes in and one of them, the leader, takes a shine to Vera who, not wanting to let an opportunity go to waste, follows his advances and ends up in a stall in the men's toilets with him. Whilst they are kissing and the biker is preparing for something more, Vera expertly produces a small pocket knife, jabs it in the side of his neck and begins drinking away. Returning to the bar where Vanja immediately realises what has happened, a few informs her sister that 'there is still some left' but, by the time that Vanja gets there, the man has regained conscious long enough to fire a round from his revolver into the ceiling which has, unbeknownst to Vanja, raised some attention amongst his gang members.
When one of them goes into the toilet to find out what's going on only to find the stall door locked, Vanja improvises with some heavy breathing and orgiastic sounds so the man turns away and leaves. However, once he returns after Vanja has had her fill and leaves in a hurry with Vera to find his friend and gang leader dead on the toilet with blood all over the walls, he quickly figures out who is responsible and, with the other bikers, begins scouring Stockholm in order to enact bloody revenge.
As nowhere in the city is safe, the two sisters must bond in a way like never before and, because they don't know if they will even see dawn, Vanja tells her sister about her plans for the future which involves trying to live on human food and settle down with her boyfriend, a human with whom she has been in touch via telephone. This doesn't go down at all well with Vera it was always assumed that they will spend the rest of her lives together.
Slowly but surely, the biker gang is closing in on the two sisters who begin to see life in a completely different light and begin to reflect on their existence and the way in which they live.
The press release unsurprisingly gave Not like Others the best possible review so I tried to keep an open mind and is watch the film without expecting it to be a modern masterpiece. It isn't on a par with Let the Right One In, a film which has set the bar ridiculously high for movies that feature vampires but Not like Others is still an engrossing and extremely well acted film that is a fascinating meditation on the nature of vampirism and what it might mean if they were real creatures living amongst us.
For his feature film debut, Peter Pontikis shows that he is a fine filmmaker with a decent screenplay and assured direction but I really don't think that this belongs in the same category as the likes of Martin and The Hunger which are really genre classics made by established filmmakers although what horror fans think of this in 30 years time is something we will only know when we get to 2040!
Just a trailer, which is a shame as I would have liked to hear from Peter Pontikis and the two leads.
This isn't the cleanest picture I've ever seen with quite heavy graining throughout although this does seem to work as an aesthetic choice and fits in with the urban landscape to make the grey concrete jungle seem even more grim and bleak. With everyone wearing muted colours and, aside from some people at a party, generally seen looking fairly miserable, this reminded me a little of Aki Kaurismäki's work!
The location shooting in Stockholm pays dividends as the city becomes another character, home to the sisters but, once the bikers after them, is more like a prison than an open and landscape.
You have the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or 2.0 stereo and I chose the former but sampled the latter and there really isn't a great difference between the two as the majority of the film is frontloaded and dialogue dominated but when you have scenes where there is music playing or motorcycles revving, the rear surrounds to come to life and provide a decent soundstage.
The English subtitles are well written, error free and allow you to follow the film quite easily as they don't disappear too quickly or fade into the background.
Although no classic, this is still a very interesting vampire film that is well worth a rental for genre fans as long as they don't set their sights too high and expect a masterpiece which, quite frankly, you're not going to see.
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