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Review: VIDAR THE VAMPIRE (2017)

Norway is not a country known for its horror films, or for sidesplitting comedies. So it was with some surprise that I found myself watching VIDAR THE VAMPIRE, an award-winning comedy from the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Framed like INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE only Vidar’s audience is a skeptical psychiatrist rather than a journalist, VIDAR THE VAMPIRE is an odd mix of deep black humour and a weird kind of sadness or melancholy. Vidar (co-writer/director Thomas Aske Berg) is a simple farmer whose life hasn’t changed much in the 33 years he’s been alive. Not until the night he meets a stranger claiming to be Jesus Christ (Brigt Skrettingland). After a distinctly blasphemous and literal ingesting of the body of Christ, Vidar eventually dies, only to be reborn as the world’s most awkward bloodsucker.

An odd film that is as much about life as a frustrated middle-aged dweeb as it is an edgy comedy, VIDAR THE VAMPIRE takes some getting used to. It doesn’t help that it is subtitled, either, as that tends to deaden some of the humor. But there’s enough going on to make it worth the effort.

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The idea of Jesus as a bar hopping pickup artist, impressing women by turning water into wine, has its moments. As does the contrast between him and his socially inept disciple, who stumbles from one humiliation to the next. But it never really escapes the sadness at its core, the idea of being unloved and alone. Vidar hoped becoming a vampire would make him irresistible, but it can’t overcome his inner nature.

And now he’s facing an eternity of loneliness. A situation that leads to an inevitable conclusion, one that longtime genre fans may recognize. There are several film references subtly mixed in, BLACULA and BURIAL GROUND among them. Vidar himself looks so much like John Carpenter, it had to have been intentional.

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Mixing pathos with some very dark laughs and taking shots at everything from psychiatry to faith healers along the way, VIDAR THE VAMPIRE won’t be to everyone’s taste. But for those up to it, it should be rewarding. Writer/directors Thomas Aske Berg and Fredrik Waldeland have created an interesting debut. I’m curious to see what they do next.

Epic Pictures Releasing via its horror label, Dread Central Presents, will release VIDAR THE VAMPIRE on DVD through Amazon as well as multiple VOD platforms.

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