Today I felt in the mood for a vampire comedy, so I popped Blood & Donuts into my DVD player. Unfortunately – despite being billed as such on both the DVD case and on imdb – Blood & Donuts is not a comedy.
This Canadian film features Boya, a vampire, who more by coincidence than anything else gets entangled in the affairs of a not-too-bright cab driver who is in trouble with some small-time mobsters.
This is a rather small story with an uncomplicated plot. The film puts more emphasis on its characters and atmosphere, and tries to raise some philosophical and ethical questions along the way. About relationships, about what is means to be human, about youth, and about ageing.
At the opening of the film, we witness Boya, apparently a vampire, wake up from a self-chosen 25-year-long coma. He seems to have a hard time remembering what it means to be human and how to blend in. He scuttles around, clawing and sniffing, which makes him look rather like a rodent. In addition, he is very stiff and can barely move properly, and that soreness and stiffness apparently extends to his vocal chords. In this combination the stiff movements and the “animalistic” approach are rather annoying as they make the vampire look quite zombiesque at first.
The sets and locations feel partly dystopian, partly noir. Cinematography, characters, and lighting also go strongly for a noir vibe. This bleak tone, combined with the “animalistic” vampire, creates a distinct “body horror” atmosphere, and it is perhaps more than just a funny coincidence that David Cronenberg has a supporting role in this film as the head of organised crime.
Cronenberg’s character and his two henchmen (played by Frank Moore and Hadley Kay) provide some comic relieve in their own way, but they are far from being funny or comedic roles.
So, as I said, I was expecting a comedy, but I did not get one. In that respect, the film caught me on the wrong foot. But I have to admit that, stylistically, the film is offering a well-rounded package. Sets, cinematography, writing, and acting all fit well together and create a rather unique atmosphere – even though it is not an atmosphere I particularly like. The music used in this film also fits, as it at times supports the tone, and at times provides a nice counterpoint to it (without working against the tone).
There are some things I have to criticise. The special effects are quite bad, but thankfully few and far between. I did not like the ending, mostly because it was preceded by a rather stupid scene. And there is a post-credit scene that is stupid and entirely pointless.
My biggest beef is with the film’s main supporting character Earl, played by Louis Ferreira (Stargate: Universe; 1-800-MISSING). Ferreira’s acting is good, but his choices are highly questionable (provided they were his choices and not those of director Holly Dale). I am not sure what kind of accent he is trying to go for, but his entire act seems like a bad Sylvester Stallone parody, and I am not sure this was the best choice here. To me, at least, it was more annoying than anything else.
Like the goons, Earl is also delivering some comic relief; but – just like theirs – his is not really a funny or comedic role.
The acting is solid throughout, ranging from Gordon Currie as Boya and Helene Clarkson as the main female character, through the aforementioned supporting roles (including Fiona Reid as Boya’s ex), down to a highly enjoyable performance (in a very minor role) by J. Winston Carroll.
So, while Blood & Donuts is not a comedy, and while there are many things I dislike about the story and about the film as a whole, this film is worth seeing for its style, provided that its particular noir/body-horror angle appeals to you.
I would rate this competent little production at around 5.5 out of 10.