Vincent (2023) Review
“…the monster was the best friend I ever had.”Boris Karloff
Thus begins Vincent, the new film from David Noel Bourke (Bakerman, No Right Turn) an Irish filmmaker living and working in Denmark. From the title card bearing these words, the film shifts to a blue-lit scene of Vincent (Mikkel Vadsholt, Undercover, Between a Rock and a Hard Place), drinking what looks like blood through a straw. Shortly after we see him digging a grave for an animal he accidentally struck with his van.
Viggo (Herman Knop, All I Want for Christmas: The Magic Time Machine, Finding Santa) comes down for breakfast before school as his mother Zara (Silke Biranell, Euroman) is reading an article in the paper about Jens ( Ebbe Engmark, The Penultimate, Autumn), a local man who has gone missing. It’s a case Viggo’s father Zebastian (Joachim Knop, A God Without a Universe, Stay With Me), the chief of police, is working hard to crack.
Bourke plays with our expectations right from the start. Vincent, balding, rotund, and awkward has an appearance that screams serial killer or child molester. The way he stammers through a few questions from Zebastian at a traffic stop only reinforces that impression. I have my own questions about how he knew Zebastian was a cop, he’s in plain clothes and standing by an unmarked car, but that’s another matter.
In a scene that’s almost unbearably creepy Vincent, who has just seen a couple of bullies beating on Viggo, offers him a ride home. Despite the fact we know how the plot is going to go, it’s still a relief when Viggo makes it home safely.
He also presents things in a slow burning manner. There’s as much time spent talking about Viggo’s parents divorcing, or his father’s drinking, as there is on Vincent’s bizarre behaviour. Similarly, there’s time for a shot of the windswept fields before the reveal of a bloody body hidden in them.
The plot of a friendship between a bullied or otherwise troubled teen and a monster, or someone who may be one, has certainly been done before, from Slapface to Let the Right One In to Satan’s Little Helper and several variations in between. Vincent plays out more like an odd, rather dark, drama than a horror film. It’s obvious there’s something off about Vincent who talks about having met both God and Satan and not knowing which is worse, “With them it’s all about power and control”. Is he merely a harmless eccentric or is there something more sinister behind his words?
As things get stranger going from a missing person to a missing corpse, whether it was dug up or, if you believe the cemetery’s caretaker, perhaps digging itself out of the grave, suspicion obviously falls on Vincent. And the film leans into it, giving you reason to wonder about his motives, or if he’s even human. But again, this all plays secondary to the film’s domestic drama and coming of age themes.
If you’re looking for the kind of straight up horror thriller the capsule description of Vincent makes it sound like, you’re going to be disappointed. There are a couple of scares and a sense of menace hanging over the proceedings. But it mostly works on other more day to day emotions. Even the ending, which waits until the literal last shot to fully play its cards, is as much touching as chilling.
It’s a testament to the writing and directing by Bourke and equally good performances from the cast that despite not getting what I expected when I sat down to watch Vincent I was anything but disappointed. This is a solid drama with a touch of the macabre and a lot of talent that sets it apart from similar stories.
Vincent is currently looking for distribution, you can check the Invictus Films Facebook page for updates.