Monday, August 5, 2013

Blood of Irina (2012) (Autonomy Pictures)

First off, let me say that I have tremendous respect for Chris Alexander. He and I don't always see eye to eye on movies he recommends, features he puts in Fangoria or even movies he included as a part of the Fango 300 in celebration of their 300th issue. Still, I respect him. I enjoy his First Rites. I think his commentary is impeccable and accurate especially on Night of the Devils. That being said, the bar for Blood of Irina was set high for a number of reasons. First, the promotion of the movie via various social networking outlets. The poster was simple but effective with a font for the title that worked for me. In my brain I had an immediate understanding of what I might see. Now combine that with that fact that it is directed by the editor of Fangoria himself, Chris Alexander. There's a certain degree of expectation with a film directed by the man at the head of the best known horror mag on the planet. Maybe that's an unreasonable expectation to put on a new filmmaker in this first effort behind the lens instead of writing about what he's seeing on the screen. Whether valid or not the internal hype I placed on Blood of Irina was high. I'm sorry to say that the movie did not live up to my expectations.

From Autonomy Pictures:

BLOOD FOR IRINA turns its lens on Irina, a predator stalking the streets at night looking for blood. Having lived over a century and now living in a run-down seaside motel with the motel manager, it’s clear they may have reached the end of the road. However, the appearance of a broken prostitute may yet change everything. Three people living life on the fringe, trapped in a world of literal and figurative decay, who may have more in common than they even know.

The advertising for this movie plays it up to be the next Franco/Rollin/Herzog picture. I've even stumbled across reviews on the internet that suggest the same thing. I do not disagree with those comparisons though it's clear that the comparison is based on those directors more obscure, less accessible works of which I am not a fan. With directors like Franco and Rollin you have a substantial catalog from which to draw. You're going to love some of it; you may despise others. The movie is a string of visuals, quiet with ambient music and the occasional Carpenter esque synth melody laid over the top. The same images would repeat including Irina spitting blood into the toilet... over and over again. With no dialogue to reinforce the story, you realize quickly that you are watching a horror art picture. They're not for everyone, and I do not suffer them well.

I found very little to enjoy about Blood of Irina, but I realized that art-horror doesn't do it for me. It's why I'm hit or miss on Jess Franco's work. It's why I had a difficult time getting into Rollin and why I've transitioned myself away from student and avantgarde film. I need a concrete narrative. I need a story. I need to be entertained. I do not think that Alexander envisioned a traditional narrative with a concrete story, but achieved exactly what he was looking to create; a series of phantasmagoric images pieced together to create a feeling and an unease. I expected a safe first effort and got a director trying to reinvent the genre. That's my fault for letting my internal hype gauge "watch the movie before I watched the movie".  I'm also not a huge fan of vampire erotica horror that strays from the workable Hammer formula of the early 70's. 

Fans of avantgarde film... this is probably up your ally. Horror fans or not. You like Salvador Dali? It'll be surreal enough for you. You like Franco (but not Oasis of the Zombies Franco... Paula Paula Franco). It's not for the casual horror fan, and I can't promise you'll like it. My initial reaction was to hate it, but with a few days thinking about how I would review the movie and realizing its intent I think it probably achieves exactly what it sent out to achieve. 

You can pick up Blood of Irina here:

I'll be checking out Chris Alexander's future projects. I don't think we've seen the last of him, and I think that his next effort will be completely different from Irina. This was not a failed experiment or effort. Check out the rest of the Autonomy Pictures line up.



  1. This is the absolutely fairest, most even-handed and respectful review I've ever seen someone give a movie they didn't care for. My virtual hat is off to you, sir.

    1. Thank you. I seldom review movies I dislike because I prefer to focus on positive reviewing. Lately, I've been thinking that I should review movies I dislike but not be caustic about it; no reason to be disrpectful or bash movies. I've done that before, and it feels bad afterward even if it's funny at time. Older movies that have been around for some time, I'll probably lay into them now and again, but when people are trying to make a good movie and are making a movie they love and actually creating their visions... there's no reason to be negative and it's even more fun to try to figure out just which audience would appreciate it. It's a style I'm working on. I'll keep 'em coming.