While at a Spanish night club, Lucy meets a darkly tall and handsome gentleman who takes her back to his luxurious yacht and spends a romantic night with him inside his cabin on the sea. The next morning, Lucy suffers from a terrible case of amnesia, unable to recall where she’s met this mysterious man before or even remember her own past and as she relaxes in her hotel room after a soothing bath, a past life vision of herself entangled with her one night stand, otherwise known as Dracula, establishes her place amongst Dracula’s side as his undead love, but vampire hunters, Doctor Van Helsing and his faithful assistant Seward, are hot on Dracula’s scent toward his brooding castle in order to save Lucy from succumbing to Dracula’s cursed evil forever.
“Apostle of Dracula” is a Spanish retelling of the classic Bram Stoker “Dracula” tale, versed in Edgar Allan Poetry, and is directed and co-written by Emilio Schargorodsky. Also known more in other parts of the world as “Dracula 0.9,” Schargorodsky’s film boldly tiptoes through a minimalistic approach regarding the mythos of the legendary vampire that dabbles in some special effects when required and uncomplicated imagery that still relishes in wondrous imagery. The “Spirits of the Dead” poetic works of American macabre writer Edgar Allan Poe reinforces the Gothically garnished settings and costumes and heightens the gloomy sensationalism in Schargorodsky’s melodramatic horror soap opera that redesigns slightly Dracula’s origins and his infatuating love interest that isn’t Mina Murray.
Instead, Dracula’s focus is resuscitating the undead cursed life into Lucy dreamily and elegantly portrayed by model-actress Nathalie Le Gosles. Le Gosles has ghostly grey eyes that pierce vividly on screen through her Lucy Westerna performance that’s quite different than what audiences might be typically used to in the character. Lucy is the titular character, being the “Apostle of Dracula,” and Dracula (Javier Caffarena) spares no expense or time and effort in making Lucy his forever. Caffarena’s Dracula is very much overshadowed by Le Gosles’s beauty and performance as Caffarena’s acting experience before his freshman film only credits him in on other role in a short film directed by Schargorodsky, but Caffarena’s a busy body on this feature, delving into many facets from cast to crew as also one of the three co-writers and also donning not only the cape and fangs of the vampire but also creating a composing soundtrack, editing the film, and acting as a producer. In all honest, Paul Lapidus stole the show with his role as the most famous vampire hunter that was ever created – Van Helsing. Virtually embracing every facet of his time hopping character, along with the rest of the cast, Lapidus’s steadfast approach toward a more conventional Van Helsing relieves many anxieties of jumbling up Dracula’s mythology. Antonia Del Rio, Francisco Del Rio, Jose Luis Matoso, and Virginia Palomino round out the cast.
Schargorodsky’s indie Gothic Dracula feature is not immaculate; however, because Schargorodsky is an experienced photographer, a silver lining in his filmmaking playbook is his impeccable eye for cinematography. Whether in the framing or capturing the organic beauty of the landscape, Schargorodsky blends a dream with classic styles that had once scared the pants off people by incorporating shadow imagery that pays a dear homage to that of F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” alongside Caffarena’s Dracula shaving his head and extending his fingers to be a lookalike Max Schrek. Captivating as many of the frames might be, the juxtaposition to the story doesn’t hold water as the story hops from one century to another without much regard for exposition. Lucy’s passionate yacht fling with a daylight walking vampire not only raises many vampire mythos questions, but also leads into Lucy displacing much of her memories of herself and her past. She then goes into a trance after returning to her hotel room, envision her great lineage self intertwined with Dracla and that story unfolds for a good portion of the film from the time Lucy’s bit to when Van Helsing and Seward interject at Dracula’s Castle. The story then returns Lucy’s back to present time where she then fights to urge to be a bloodsucker, but can’t stop her desires to be with her undead beau all the while a modern day Van Helsing and Seward, sporting sleek Secret Service-issues shades and wardrobe, seek to protect Lucy at all cost. Lost somewhere in the midst of the story is an important pice of the puzzle that goes unexplained.
Wild Eye Releasing MVDVisual present the 2012 “Apostle of Dracula” onto DVD for the first time in the U.S. The DVD, graced with a cover illustrating an unrelated naked female vampire crotched down and glaring outward, widescreen presentation sports a digitally shot transfer that fairly mediocre throughout despite soft details, faint aliasing, and spotty moments of digital noise during darker scenes. However, the worst technical aspect lies with the dialogue audio track that’s horrendously dubbed in non-optional English in such a flat, monotone voice that all the passion behind the actors is lost. If you watch close in the special features, clips of untainted portions of the film can be caught with the original Spanish track, bringing a whole new life into the scenes. There are no options to play the original language or even optional subtitles. Caffarena’s looming score comes out clean with subtitle details in the LFE emitting from Stereo audio which can be seen discussed on the bonus material about composing the score. Another special features contain a pleasant surprise with a never before scene interview with the late Jess Franco, who looked to be on his death bed, conversing his positive thoughts and praises on Emilio’s film that does have a faint resemblance to Franco’s work consisting of elements, but not limited to, the gothic, dream-like, and slightly sleazy. Bonus material comes full circle with Wild Eye Releasing trailers. Emilio Schargorodsky’s self-funded Dracula film proves any filmmaker can be a auteur without losing focus despite some flaws being on the grand stage of an iconic horror monster and while “Apostle of Dracula” flips the script on Bram Stoker’s telling of one of the greatest villains ever scribed, there’s something to be said for the multiple ways to skin a cat in this and still able to construct a solid story in this European horror.
Hasn’t the hand held first person camera run it’s course? The recently popular method has been criticized as shaky, unintelligible, headache inducing, and over abused. I agree with that criticism as well, but I find there lies a bit of realism in the corners of each the richly blindingly dark and snowy static scenes of a hand held camera.
The Inside is the next flick to hop on the hand held bandwagon. A young man purchases a second hand video camera at a pawnshop and discovers that the tape is still inside the camera. He plays back to footage of five girls out on the town for one of their own’s 21st birthday party. The girls break in to an abandoned undisclosed location for a little wild times, but three vagrants break up their fun and unleash terror upon them. But when the vagrants think they have the upper hand, a supernatural evil falls upon the girls and themselves leaving all of them to fend for themselves against pure evil. When the man finishes the tape, he retraces the girls steps in search of what caused their demise.
While the shaky hand cam has more realism than any third person perspective, a great backbone of a story can make the film all the sweeter, but The Inside has a flimsy plot line that doesn’t explain what kind of evil forces these girls are dealing with nor can be explained what this “Grave Digger,” as IMDB.com has labeled the character, has gruesomely bestowed upon the victims. Perhaps the take away from this movie is that people disappear without a trace all the time and this could be a theory to how and why…? But glimpses of Satanic pentagram symbols sprayed on the wall and quick visions of Satanic goats are being tapped into the camera’s signal, which I don’t think is the correct type of signal. But this confirms some kind of ritualistic satanic practices being held and, perhaps, going terribly and horribly wrong. I feel there should be a prequel to The Inside to give us a little more insight into who or what the “Grave Digger” is.
What behoves the story to maintains a chilly manner was to keep the characters portraying like horror ignorant idiots. For example, the young man, played by director Eoin Macken himself, who bought the camera decides to retrace the girls’ steps and investigate by himself. Why not turn in the camera to the authorities after witness physical assault, rape, and supernatural evil terror of the girls? This man was not superhuman, but much rather a bum looking to pawn of his wedding ring – we aren’t privy to his background either and have to deduce what we see to come to some kind of half-cocked conclusion.
Amongst all the chaos and confusion after the supernatural shit hits the fan, the movie takes a 180 degree turn in the other direction and no longer are we invited guests at a party or the voyeurs of a perverse snuff film, but a survivor ourselves. However, the sound is much to hectic to make any comprehendible sense. All that I knew for sure was when the “Grave Digger” was about to make an appearance – a baby wailed and there was an electronic hum – which made an unfitting tell of his whereabouts, but the “Grave Digger” was an interesting looking character despite his mysterious background and his grimly cryptic intentions. He’s naked and covered and blood – if you’ve ever seen Shallow Ground then you might have a clear representation of what I’m talking about.
Much like most hand held camera movies, The Inside is no different or nothing much more special. There is an open ending, which is a common characteristic of films like these which has to do with the realism factor once again. The Inside will chill your spine, yet you won’t figure out why it chills your spine in the first place. Check it for yourself by buying your copy of The Inside at Monster Pictures.com