Temptation (2009)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2010-06-16 08:01

Written by: Julianne White
Directed by: Catherine Taylor
Starring: Caroline Haines, Laura Evans, and Rachel Waters

Reviewed by: Brett G.

ďA vampire heart beats forever.Ē

Vampires are all the rage right now. Sure, theyíve been a staple of fiction for over a hundred years, but itís impossible to turn anywhere at this point and not run into everyoneís favorite undead creatures. Between the runaway success of the more juvenile Twilight on the page and the silver screen to the increasing buzz surrounding televisionís sultry True Blood, itís easy to see why everyone wants a piece of the vampire pie. This trend has even traveled across the pond to a country with an already storied vampire history: England, whose Hammer Films studio produced several popular vampire films during its tenure. The latest offering is Catherine Taylorís Temptation, an interesting attempt to reclaim the genreís gothic flair and sexual overtones in one fell, bloody swoop.

When we first meet our heroine, Isabel, sheís in the middle of a suicide attempt. As she stands at the precipice of a bridge, we wonder what would drive such a striking young lady to take such desperate action. After the credits roll, the film conveniently flashes back two days previous to give us our answer. After a night of drinking with the girls, Isabel is left without a ride home; that is, until a random old man picks her up with no intentions of taking her home. Instead, he takes her to a back alley and rapes her; he intends to do much more, but heís interrupted by a mysterious and beautiful woman who rescues Isabel and nurses her back to health. Isabelís salvation doesnít come without a price, however, as she soon discovers that sheís become a vampire, and, to make matters worse, her mysterious savior is the head of a coven of vampires with bad intentions for anyone who crosses their path. Isabel does, however, have a way out from her newfound hell: she can kill herself before the curse completely takes over within 48 hours
Temptation is a film with a fairly interesting premise, at least initially. The filmís opening does a good job of setting up one hell of an internal conflict: is immortality really worth the agony of all that it entails? So many vampire films either glamorize or mystify the vampire experience; very few attempt to approach the subject in a more grounded fashion that really explores the implications of such a transformation. At first, this is the route Temptation takes, as we focus on Isabelís transformation and experience it not only through her, but also her sister Kylie. This is when the film is at its most interesting because Caroline Haines does such a good job of selling the experience--thereís a sort of innocent and frail quality to the performance that naturally draws one into the conflict.

Unfortunately, the film also decides to focus on Isabelís rescuer, Aurelie, and her coven of vampires. This aspect of the film features some lesbian eroticism, but itís also full of a lot of cliches that weíve seen in other films. This isnít an altogether terrible thing, but the film struggles to balance its two storylines, and I found myself just wanting to get back to Isabelís story. Of course, the two threads eventually do meet, but by that point, the promising premise has been a bit lost. Instead, it ultimately just feels like a by-the-numbers vampire narrative thatís full of murder and dramatic irony (we know that Isabelís story is true, but the cops, of course, do not). The resolution is not nearly as interesting as the premise of the conflict itself because it discards the human elements pretty hastily in favor of a bloody climax.

But enough about all that, as Iím sure the ďlesbian eroticismĒ of the previous paragraph caught your eye pretty quickly. Thereís a lot of that to be had here, and the filmís overall style harkens back to the more melodramatic, gothic, and sexually charged vampire films of the past. While itís not exactly a Jean Rollin-style foray into pure softcore erotica, itís sort of a different take that we havenít seen in a while. It doesnít really add much to the narrative (really, the film would be no different if Aurelie were a man), but it does give the film a bit of Euro-flavor that I canít complain about. The film as a whole is pretty well put together, and you can tell that Taylor is maximizing a pretty shoestring budget. Still, the cinematography is decent for an obviously digital production, and the effects are well done for the most part. Thereís plenty of opportunities for the effects crew to show off their best throat-ripping gags, which should come as no surprise.

Ultimately, Temptation is a film that degenerates from having a genuinely interesting conflict to being a pretty simple vampire flick thatís content to show off its fangs and skin more than its heart. Luckily, the babes are pretty cute all the way around and the narrative is just interesting enough to hold your attention. It doesnít quite recapture the gothic glory of previous vampire films, but itís a good effort that does remind us of the genreís roots (particularly the sexual aspects). Breaking Glass pictures is poised to unsheathe Temptationís fangs on DVD on July 29th. As weíve come to expect from Breaking Glass, the film will receive a good treatment: thereís a nice anamorphic transfer, plus both 5.1 and 2.0 audio soundtracks. Special features will include a photo gallery and cast and crew interviews. So, should you give into Temptation? Perhaps just one time will do--this oneís got sharp fangs, but they donít dig in too deeply. Rent it!

For more information, please visit the Breaking Glass Pictures website.

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