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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Temptation (aka Black Tower Temptation)

My notes on the 2009 British vampire movie.

‘Just you remember who you are dealing with or it will be your dissected body which ends up in every researchers’ bottle in London!’

 

A London-set vampire movie, along predictable lines but made with some low-budget gloss, nice locations, reasonable performances (mostly by good-looking women in fetish lingerie) and a busy orchestral score (John Koutselinis).  Isabel Burrowes (Caroline Haines), a ladette temporarily pissed off with her suit boyfriend Simon (Alexander D’Andrea), gets drunk with her girlfriends from work and is pulled out of the gutter by a minicab-driving rapist (Jim Ford) who is battering her in an alley (‘I love it when they bleed’) when he’s pulled off and killed by a stiletto heel to the throat by Aurelie (Rachel Waters), a statuesque French redhead (aptly pronounced ‘orally’) who answers Isabel’s plea for help by biting her in the neck and dosing her with her own blood.  The next day, Isabel dimly remembers the assault but nothing else – and starts suffering mood swings, urges, etc., as she turns.  Meanwhile, accented, corseted Aurelie – who has been attracted to Isabel because she looks like Margot, the now-dead vampire who turned her in a cheap historical flashback with pompadour wigs – sits about in a goth hang-out (‘some old abandoned factory’) bossing about a bunch of leggy, underwear-clad, pouting vixens (Laura Lagercrantz, Reena Lalbihari, Ellie Jeffreys, Alyona Kazarova) who are given to prowling for victims in an underlit strip-club.

 

It seems the vampire girl posse are usually fastidious about maintaining a low profile, but the bled-dead cabbie/rapist is followed by another random victim, taken by one of Aurelie’s crew in a moment of excitement, and even a tame cop (Robert Sean-Riaz) can’t hamper the investigation, which leads a determined detective (Graham Bowe) to Isabel’s house in Shoreditch.  A subplot with Isabel’s sister Kylie (Laura Evans) and her posy goth boyfriend Jason (Sammy Dodds) serves to make the film feel a bit more populated, but is mainly there so Jason can be sneered at ironically (‘what the Hell’s that, some sort of Shoreditch vampire?’).  In a mildly unusual bit, Simon tries to worm his way back in with Isabel, misreading her strange behaviour as signs of being pregnant and probably not by him, whereupon she flashes fangs (‘it’s not a baby that’s inside me, Simon) and rape-rides him only to hold back before biting him (‘what the fuck is happening?’).  In a spin on the lesbian vampire schtick, these female vampires predate on obnoxious men – mostly drunken pick-ups, complaining strip-club patrons or rapists – but have relationships only among themselves (hence, the old-fashioned Imhotep/Blacula/She attempt-to-seduce-the-reincarnation-of-a-lost-love plot).  Aurelie keeps Jean-Pierre (Damian Morter), the French soldier who killed Margot, chained up and semi-vampiric in her basement, though his big fangs, silly accent and frilly shirt reduce any poignance there might be in the situation.

 

Isobel puts J-P out of his misery and Aurelie murders Isobel’s Mum (Faith Hanstater) and sister – which brings us back to where we came in, with Isobel on the point of jumping off Tower Bridge to end it all and Aurelie imploring her to join her (‘I saw the torment inside you, Isobel, now I have set you free – your future is with us … you will live forever, free to do whatever you want to do’).  Naturally, Isabel shoves Aurelie backwards onto a spiked fence and takes over the vamp gang – a familiar ending, though it might make for an interesting sequel since it’s been established that Aurelie’s connections with cops, bouncers and other key humans have enabled this coven to get away with it for so long, and the new-born queen bee is less likely to be able to keep it all together.  It’s overheated, though it would be hard to think of any other way of doing this story – with rumbling thunder and snarling on the soundtrack, night-time views of the Pickle and Tower Bridge, intercuttings of vampirism with dour striptease, flash-montage horrible-bits-so-far recaps every few scenes and little humour.  A Count Yorga-type finish resurrects vampire Kylie (played by a former Basil Brush co-star) to throat-rip her useless poseur boyfriend in his skull-decorated bedroom.  These vampires move very swiftly in a distinctive effect, but have 1970s style big teeth.  Written by Julianne White; directed by Catherine Taylor; photographed by Carolina Costa – the female creatives still put in plenty of goth burlesque stuff, though there is an interesting emphasis on making men the victims of violent, sexualised assault.

Here’s a trailer.

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