From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 5 10:16:07 2016
THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE (2014)
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth
**1/2 (out of ****)
Given the inherent silliness of the vampire subgenre--humans turning into
bats, dust, or over in their graves--it stands to reason that the comedy
would be almost as common as its more dramatic bloodsucking counterpart.
In many cases you need go no further than the title: Roman Polanski's classic "The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in
My Neck"; George Hamilton vamping it up in the campy "Love at First Bite";
"My Best Friend is a Vampire" and "My Grandpa is a Vampire" and "My
Stepbrother is a Vampire!?!" (sic). And lots of sucking too: "Dracula
Sucks," "Vampires Suck," all the way down to plain old "Suck."
And now the Austrians (of all people) are getting into the act with "Therapy for a Vampire" (loosely translated from "Der Vampir auf der
Couch"), an affectionate take on vampire lore that's a lot more in keeping
with the recent spoof "Things We Do in the Shadows" (with "Flight of the Conchords"' Jemaine Clement) than, say, the less-subtle Mel Brooks parody, "Dracula - Dead and Loving It" (starring Leslie Nielsen).
"Therapy'" stars a bunch of Austrians we've never heard of in a German-language period pic ("1932, somewhere near Vienna") about a
depressed vampire, Count Geza von Kozsnom, seeking psychiatric help from
none other than Dr. Sigmund Freud himself. The Count's marriage, to the
vain and glorious Countess Elsa, who's bummed that she can't bask in her reflected beauty, is on the rocks. Tobias Moretti and Jeanette Hain, who
play our undead aristocrats, resemble a Weimer-era Geoffrey Rush and
Anjelica Huston respectively; Karl Fischer is appropriately Freudian as the famed psychoanalyst.
As Count von Kozsnom recounts to Freud: "I'm not good at
self-reflection. I need your help. I feel old and tired. I've seen everything. There's nothing left for me to discover. I no longer have a thirst for life. Even food bores and wearies me. It's monotonous, like everything else. My blood flows languidly and cold through my veins. I'm
fed up of this everlasting night. This eternal darkness, swallowing me
up. I long for light. Bright light, where I can disappear and dissolve. Dissolve into thin air. Vanish."
That's typical of the pun-accented wordplay in writer/director David Ruehm's film, and his couched vampire tale gets by cheerfully on its
sweetness and silliness, albeit with the occasional bucket of chum tossed
in from the sidelines. In addition, acclaimed D.P. Martin Gschlacht imbues
the film with a heady Gothic atmosphere.
Ruehm draws on various sources for his sanguine screenplay, perhaps
even "Sesame Street." One of our protagonist's OCD symptoms is his rabid
need to count--each time someone upsets a tin of drawing pins or drops a handful of coins or scatters a box of candies, von Kozsnom is down on his
hands and knees, totaling the contents in a flash. In a similar vein,
Buffy's vampires had their share of personal demons, but the soulless
sadsacks of "Therapy for a Vampire" tend to struggle more with
head-shrinking than heart-staking.