Dir/Wr: Roman de Saint-Blanquat | Cast: Leonie Dahan-Lamort, Lilith Grasmug, Fred Blin, Cyril Metzger | France Horror
French filmmaker Romain de Saint-Blanquat has created an entire universe with his enticing feature debut echoing the style of Jean Rollin’s Le Frisson des Vampires (1971), Suspiria or even Blanche (1971) by Walerian Borowczyk, and complete with a sixties-style soundtrack. Even the actors have evocative names.
This retro vampire fable unfolds in a Catholic convent in 1967 where Françoise (suggestively played by Leonie Dahan-Lamort) is a febrile seventeen-year-old boarder obsessed with morbid thoughts that focus on her own imminent death on the eve of Lent when the spirits will run wild and evil spirits roam free to tempt the unsuspecting.
Convinced she has only one more night on Earth, she escapes the confines of her all-girl dormitory to free herself of this final evening along with her friend Delphine (Lilith Grasmug) and some other friends. The idea is to indulge in gaudy style fancy dress party in an abandoned house deep in the woods where they can ‘live life to the lees’, as Keats put it.
Here Francoise drifts into a bizarre Gothic reverie buoyed by her emotions that play on the subconscious in a realm of the senses teetering on the edge of sanity all the time dicing with danger in her need for cathartic release. There’s a sexual edge to this sortie into the sensual abyss and it comes in the shape of Cyril Metzger’s character who supplies a much needed male element for her to act on as seductress and potentially even succubus – if her fears are realised – in the afterlife. And with this reversal of traditional vampire tropes the film feels refreshingly ‘de nos jours’.
La Morsure may not be totally original in concept but it is certainly an adventurous and enticing giallo-style fantasy and a beguiling addition to the vampire genre. MT
LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 2023 | CINEASTI DEL PRESENTE