By Brett Mullins
Written and Directed by Faye Jackson
Strigoi is a dark comedy exploring the Romanian Vampire myth which shares the film’s name. This film is rather atypical in the sense that it opts for a subtle approach to both its frights and humor.
Vlad returns home from his less than favorable tutelage at a Medical School to find a local drunkard dead and some rather curious behavior from the rest of the town. Little does he know that the townspeople have murdered a family that practically owns the town, the dead have risen from the ground (and are very hungry!), and the Communists are to blame.
Strigoi presents the audience with a rather complex plot, especially for those who are unfamiliar with Romanian culture and myths. Keeping up with the exploits of the townsfolk proves to be a attention consuming task that bogs down the pacing somewhat.
This aside, the quirks of the characters give the film a charming feel that is not often present in modern cinema. A glaring example is in the scene following where the wealthy family is, for lack of better words, executed via tribunal; the townspeople raid their house and party in slow motion to ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Norman Greenbaum. This scene conveys the moral confusion and liberation of the villagers and illustrates clearly the excellent writing and direction of Faye Jackson.
When I put the film on, I expected rural Romanian dialogue and English subtitles with a few hiccups. Much to my dismay, the characters spoke English with just a bit of an accent. At first, this was unsettling and, as many critics have noted, detracted from the credibility of the film; however, after the initial shock passed, this attribute added to the film’s charm. Jackson noted that the English dialogue was the result of her not feeling comfortable in her command of the Romanian language.
Strigoi can be summarized as a quirky, albeit confusing, dark comedy that puts a new twist on the classic Vampire tale.