CELLULOID SCREAMS – Review: Chimères

Chimères is Swiss director Olivier Beguin’s first feature film and takes on the vampire genre from a refreshing new perspective. We meet Alex and Livia, an established couple visiting Romania. After a drunken night, Alex gets hit by a car and ends up needing a blood transfusion. See where I’m going with this?

Alex slowly realises something isn’t right, and a newspaper article confirms his suspicions. In a couple of amusing scenes, Beguin incorporates the classic vampire weaknesses into Alex’s life but messes around with them to make them his own. The mirror is still a significant object in the vampire’s story, but not in the way you’d expect.

Yannick Rosset and Jasna Kohoutova play Alex and Livia. Their on screen relationship is convincing and it is interesting to see how a couple deals with such an upheaval in their relationship. Kohoutova particularly impresses and I expect to see a lot more of her in the future.

The ending is the biggest surprise of the film and we get there too abruptly. You expect a big crescendo for Alex but none comes. However, the fact Beguin breaks the stereotype of a man seeking retribution for a woman’s death is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. Seeing Livia kick some arse in the name of revenge is not only thrilling to watch but also significant when you think about how a lot of modern vampire films focus mainly on male vampires. Female vampires are a subject left quite unexplored and this could be the beginning of a different way women are viewed in vampire films, i.e. not just as sexy after thoughts but leading protagonists.

Beguin said he was going to do a comedy horror, but changed his mind and went for straight horror. This is probably the films biggest mistake as some of the scenes take themselves too seriously and go from frightening to funny. There’s still enough guts and gore to keep us happy though, making it overall an enjoyable vamp flick with touches of genuine originality.