Strigoi (2009)- Quick Hit ( Not a full review but at least something in passing) This is a quirky little film that really isn't a horror movie, but although there are some comedic elements is not a comedy either, not even a dark comedy. What is it? A drama murder mystery that uses the traditional pre-hollywood ideas of vampires as a center piece to move the story forward.
In a Romanian village a conspiracy is carried out against the wealthiest land owner and his wife. Constantin Tirescu (Constantin Barbulescu) and his wife Lleana (Roxana Guttman) are killed by the villagers and there property taken. They are accused of a crime that is not specified but this could just be an excuse. He is the largest land owner and richest member of the village having even built the church. The villagers are tired of one guy having so much though and they take it all away through murder. The problem is these two corpses won't stay buried.
The story from there centers on Vlad Cozma (Catalin Paraschiv) an underachiever in a family of doctors who dropped out of medical school in Italy and has returned to the village to get his bearings. He is staying with his cute little old grandfather Nicolae (Rudi Rosenfeld) and helping the old man while he avoids the rest of his family. After leaving his house in the morning in search of cigarettes Vlad comes across his neighbor Mara (Camelia Maxim) passed out in her doorway and gets her up and in the house. She feeds him and talks about having to prepare food for the funeral of another villager who has passed away named Florine. Vlad makes his way to Florine's to find the mayor Stephan (Zane Jarcu) and some other villagers sitting around the body talking. It is a tradition to sit with the newly dead for three days and nights to make sure the dead does not come back as a vampire. They sit and tell stories and talk to the body then after the time period the funeral will take place. Vlad notices that Florine is wearing a very nice watch. Much to expensive for a peasant he questions the group about it. He is a sharp guy and notices other things too, fancy shoes on on man etc. strange he thinks.
As he talks to people in the village he senses something is amiss, were those bruises he saw on Florine's neck? In speaking with the village priest and his friend growing up he learns that Florine's death was ruled an accident and a paper was filed that he supposedly signed as the one who examined the body. Although everyone wants him to drop it he is going to investigate this. The next day he contacts his police officer friend and then visits the home of the Tirescu's. to the audiences surprise they are there. Lleana facially a bit bloated with blood and very disheveled leads him to her husband. We learn a bit about this form of vampirism from the appearnce of characters. The Tirescu's are bloated dead bodys that leave their graves to wander back into the familiar places of their lives. They can communicate and function but the sound affects of the bubbling gases they contain and the flush of there faces give away that something is not right. Vlad though does not know they have been killed and talks to them as he normally would. He is subject to a bit of history about Romania of hoe the Constantin gathered up his land holding by first working with the Russian invaders and then using the money he had accumulated from them to buy up the village lands since it was all confiscated in communism but was now available.
Mara at this time has her own problems as the undead Lleana arrives at her house and proceeds to eat everything that was prepared for Florine's funeral. The undead are insatiable and poor Mara is nervous and frightened and franically starts making more food to appease Lleana. She will get to play this storyline out as she runs out of food the undead Lleana will have only her to eat.
Vlad with some slow meandering will solve the mystery of the town. In doing so the viewer gets to be surprised to learn who is undead and who is alive in the town. Not wanting to spoil this film lets leave it as a solid mystery with Vlad being the protagonist and the villagers who are in the plot the antagonists. There are some very good scenes between Vlad and Nicolae where the old man relays what life in Romania has been like since WWII. First the Germans invaded he says and they were forced to fight a war they wanted no part of. When the Germans lost he had to walk all the way back from Russia alone. Then the Russian came and were far worse. The Communists took the land that had been in his family for generations, said it was no longer his but he had to work it as he always had and give his bounty to the government. Then when the Russians left men like Constantin used their corrupt money to try to buy the land from him. These scenes were very touching and well acted and so improved the story. Overall the film is a bit off center but in a compelling enough way. The acting is solid and the mystery compelling. So this quick hit is a success, it is available On Demand in FOIS but not yet available on Netflix.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended