Horror/comedy, 87 minutes, not rated, Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, Center for Contemporary Arts, 2.5 chiles
What makes Austrian director/writer David Rühm’s horror comedy Therapy for a Vampire work is not the picture’s wry one-liners about the undead (“Life’s lost its bite,” a depressed vampire says at one point), but rather its emphasis on characters searching for an identity that they and others will embrace.
It is Vienna, 1932. Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan) is the sad-faced waitress looking to fulfill her artist boyfriend Viktor’s fantasies – like wearing a dress, dyeing her hair blonde and maybe smiling once in a while. She inadvertently finds a chance to redefine herself when she meets the mysterious Count Közsnöm, played by Tobias Moretti. The blood-drinking count is downright suicidal, fed up with his needy vampire wife (Jeanette Hain) and in serious need of psychological help. Enter Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer) who agrees to take on the count as a patient for a hefty price. Meanwhile the count’s wife, seeking self reflection, hires Viktor (Dominic Oley) to paint her portrait, as she has never seen what she looks like (vampires do not cast images in mirrors, remember). Therapy for a Vampire leads its four main characters through a labyrinth of bloodlust and love as they each seek to find themselves in very different ways. As the two vampire characters tire of their lifestyle, Lucy is smitten with the idea of living forever and flying, which leads to the expected complications and some fun special effects. It's an often sharp and amusing tale, but it never quite shifts into full throttle to take off on all cylinders — or wings, in this case.