Saturday, October 14, 2017

Brooklyn Horror ’17: Salvation

According to rumor, patients of this crummy metropolitan hospital know when their vitals take a turn for the worse when they are paid a visit by a certain doctor in his clown costume. He is like the Patch Adams of death, but at least he keeps busy. The outlook is not great for thirteen-year-old Cris, but she has been offered a rather unconventional cure from a fellow patient in Denise Castro’s Salvation (trailer here), which screens tonight during the 2017Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

Cris is at the age when she wants to rebel against her mother and authority figures, which is natural enough, but does not make her a model patient. Walking the halls one night, she slips into a sequestered wing with only one occupant. That would be Victor, who is even less cooperative than she is. He also claims there are medical reasons for his isolation. He is not contagious, he is a vampire. Any day now, he will regain enough strength to slip away into the night. He might be willing to turn Cris and take her with him, if she shows sufficient commitment to the undead way of whatever.

This film is just dying for you to compare it to Let the Right One In—and there is a stylistic and thematic kinship. However, it is a stretch to call it a horror movie. It is more aptly described as a darkly fantastical coming of age story—unless you have a phobia of hospitals, in which case Salvation will scare the pants off you.

Marina Boti and Ricard Balada brood with fierce, anti-social intensity as Cris and Victor, but weirdly enough, the four or five-year age difference between them feels more awkward then the protective relationship Eli the little girl vampire shares with her parent-like familiar in Right One. However, Laura Yuste is absolutely terrific as Cris’s long-suffering mother, who still has to put up with her crap during some of the darkest days a parent can know.

There is no question, the art and design team created a massively creepy environment to putter around. José Luis Pulido’s cinematography also reinforces the darkly, moody vibe. Yet, Castro and co-screenwriters Lluís Segura and Laia Soler often undercut the potential suspense with frequent attempts to “de-mystify” the vampire elements. At times, Salvation feels like it believes it is better than a crass plebeian horror movie (and that attitude is always a bummer). Earning a decidedly mixed recommendation for some fine performances and its accomplished technical craftsmanship, Salvation screens this afternoon (10/14) at the Spectacle Theater and tomorrow (10/15) at Video Revival, as part of this year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.