Temptation (2009)

Temptation is a British B-movie from 2009, which in some parts of the world has been re-named Vampire after Twilight as a marketing ploy. I have seen the DVD offered on amazon and ebay now and again, but somehow it never appealed to me. Recently, however, I grabbed a brand-new copy out of the 1-Euro-bargain-bin.

A girl named Isabel, who – we assume – is dying, is “saved” by Aurelie, a female vampire sporting both a bad wig and a bad French accent. Disoriented and with serious gaps in her memory, Isabel finds herself back at her family’s home.
The main plot involves the 48 hours of transition, as Isabel notices her body changing, without really understanding what is happening to her. Slowly she uncovers the truth and is faced with an impossible choice.
Subplots include the exploits of Aurelie and her posse of female vampires, and a police investigation caused by the latter’s carelessness. We are also told origin stories for two of the vampires, but these are amongst the more uninteresting bits of the film.

 

There is some potential in that premise and in the character constellation, and the film tries to find its own stylistic language. Many scenes take place in a shady night club (called “Temptation”), and here the filmmakers have opted for a burlesque theme. Apart from a lesbian vibe, there is also quite a lot of nudity thrown into the mix for good measure.

Ultimately, however, almost everything about this film is pretty much run-of-the-mill, including the story itself. The title song is very good, and soundtrack and sound design are suitably atmospheric and unobtrusive; while the cinematography by first-timer Carolina Costa is very basic, though not bad.

“Basic, but not bad” could also be used to describe the acting in this film. To be frank, none of the actors here are at risk of winning a major award any time soon, but the basic nature of their performances also meant that there was less risk of them doing anything wrong. And even though there is more than one camp performance here (intentionally, one might add), it is seldom hammy.

The lead actors Caroline Haines (Isabel) and Rachel Waters (Aurelie) are not bad, but there is nothing Waters could have done to make up for that silly accent her character was saddled with. I am not sure if this choice was made by the actress or the director, but it was not good one. Haines, on the other hand, struggles at times with scenes in which her character has to portray inner turmoil – she does not fail (apart from a “inner monologue scene” at the very start of the film), mind you, as some other actors do in such scenes, but the relatively large number of these scenes meant that she was running out of variation. This is one of those instances where more time and the hand of an experienced director might have helped.

All other characters in this film can be classed as minor supporting roles; there are some decent performances to be found amongst these roles, including (but not limited to) Alexander D’Andrea, Laura Evans, Graham Bowe, Jim Ford, and Sammy Dodds.

Genre-wise, Temptation is a B-movie with a slight fan-fiction-vibe, some “camp” in its style, and strong feminist undercurrents. Having a female writer and a female director, it seems the aim was to create a female-centric film with female lead characters, a predominately female cast, and a female point of view. I suppose in this regard the film has succeeded in what it set out to do. And having dodgy male characters and a patronising, cynical, and uncaring police-man in the film certainly helps, and the intention is visible in Graham Bowe’s performance (Detective Sergeant Morris). Still, it seems that the intention (and maybe the enthusiasm) of writer Julianne White and director Catherine Taylor may have caused them to overlook the weaknesses in the script, the dialogue, and the arc of suspense. We are talking about a first-time writer and a first-time director here (, not to forget the first-time cinematographer), and the end-result, I believe, reflects that fact.

In a way, Temptation reminds me of We are the Night, also a film in which a feminist theme is clearly visible, but is inconsistently used and ultimately leads nowhere.

As I have said before, if a film is mediocre and tends to be rather unexciting, it should at least be short. And Temptation has the decency of only running for about 80 minutes (net). That way, one more easily forgives the lack of suspense, and the premise and other interesting elements are not completely erased from one’s memory by the time the film ends.

Temptation is an honest attempt to make a decent and original B-movie, not some kind of calculated genre cash-grab. And even though I do not believe that it succeeds in being either original or really good, I can recommend this film to all those who like seeing these “honest” films.

Personally, I cannot rate this film any higher than 4.0 or 4.5 out of 10.

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