September 14, 2014
Carrie Gemmell as: Widow
David Goodfellow as: Woodsman
Shauna Henry as: Irina
Nivek Ogre as: Preacher
Irina (Shauna Henry) comes out of a lake and is reborn as a vampiric plague. She walks the countryside searching for victims to feed her need for blood. In turn, searching and hunting for her is a mentally unstable Preacher (Nivek Ogre of industrial legends Skinny Puppy). But, can anything or anyone stop this vampiric force of nature?
Writer/director/ producer/ cinematographer/ score composer/editor Chris Alexander has been the editor for renowned horror magazine Fangoria since 2007. Queen of Blood is his second movie and a sequel of sorts to his first film, Blood for Irina. Though, that being said you don’t need to see that film before seeing this one. I certainly didn’t. But, saying he is the editor of Fangoria may lead you to come into this movie with some preconceived notions of seeing an action filled movie with lots of wild, over the top gore. So, let me be the first to tell you, that you need to drop those notions and drop them now. This movie is absolutely not that at all.
In fact, this is easily the oddest the movie I’ve seen in a very long time. At first glance it may come off as pretentious and boring. And, maybe it is just that, but it’s also a lot more. This makes for a movie that may be difficult for most to get into. The pacing is excruciatingly slow, and I fought to stay awake at times. A few people even walked out at the screening I saw this at.
But, there is an aesthetic beauty to it that makes it visually stunning. It has a breathtaking and exquisite look to it. This makes it so that even when nothing is happening onscreen, you will still find something that catches your eye. The Canadian countryside supplies a beautiful backdrop to the story. The gorgeous countryside colors become living art pieces in and of themselves in the way the camera catches them. For example, there is a gorgeous shot of a waterfall that is used twice in the movie that simply took my breath away. Alexander handles the many hats he wears here quite deftly. Aside from the visual aspect of it, he also provides music that is haunting, beautiful, and even soothing, at times. This is necessary since there is no dialogue, and it is at least in part left up to the music to capture and represent emotion.
Since this isn’t a movie that features acting in a typical sense, it requires someone that can say everything with their face and body. Thankfully the cast here does just that, and they do it quite well. This is in particularly true of Shauna Henry, who as the vampire Irene, pretty much carries the whole movie on her shoulders. She has this way about her that it almost seems as if she is floating across the countryside, searching for blood. What’s interesting is that she never comes off as truly vicious or cruel. Instead, there is a seductive quality to her. Even in the way she kills, it all seems soft and sweet with only the actual outcome being vicious. Physically, she looks like someone out of a European horror film.
As a matter of fact, this feels like a European horror film that maybe would have been made in the 1970s. In particular, you will see the influence of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco. But, if you are looking for the T and A of these filmmakers movies you will not find it here. There is not a single shot of nude flesh; in fact you won’t even get a panty shot here. That said, there is a feeling of a seductive air that lingers anytime Irene comes close to a victim. So, that at most there are some light undertones of lesbianism, when said victim happens to be female.
Instead, the influence of these filmmakers is more so in the feel and the look of this movie. The luscious, long takes and slow, ghostly movements of Irene are pure Rollin and Franco. As you watch this movie you will also notice that it has a lack of explicit gore. There is a good amount of blood that is spilled, however. But, no entrails or organs or body parts are ever ripped out. Still, Alexander does achieve one tense and chilling moment where our anti-heroine meets a pregnant woman. But, even as this scene crescendos, it ends up plateauing into a rather beautiful and quiet, yet still somehow horrific outcome.
Queen of Blood is a difficult movie to truly recommend. I am not sure if I even fully liked it. But, at the same time I can say that I didn’t hate it. There are stunning tidbits of it that are much too beautiful to not appreciate. It is clear that Alexander loves European horror movies. Even if you had never read a single issue of Fangoria where he often talks about his love of these films; it’s evident here. Lethargically paced and with no real exploitative elements to this, it ends up being very much an art house, horror film. If you are adventurous and curious, you may want to take a look. All others should know what they are in for before they proceed with this movie.