Review by Sean Boelman
If the idea of a “Marxist vampire comedy” does not appeal to you, there are two questions that need to be asked of you: what are you doing with your life, and why are you reading this site in the first place? And despite the fact that Julian Radlmaier’s satire Bloodsuckers may not be as wild as the pitch would imply, it’s still a thought-provoking and very entertaining watch.
The film follows a Soviet refugee who falls in love with a wealthy vampire who is spending the summer at a seaside getaway with her devoted but awkward servant. Radlmaier takes these common tropes and puts a tongue-in-cheek genre spin on them, creating a delightfully quirky movie in the process.
There are some significant structural issues with the film’s script. Although splitting the story between the perspectives of the three central characters is an interesting idea at first, the way in which Radlmaier executes it ultimately feels a bit stilted. The movie definitely could have spared to be a bit more concise and to the point.
That said, the point that the film makes is very strong. This is an unabashedly political movie, and it’s all the better for it. Although Radlmaier doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for discussion regarding these themes, his voice never fails to come through in his satire, utilizing the medium to its fullest extent to provide cultural criticism.
At times, the characters do feel a bit two-dimensional, but this seems to be by design. Radlmaier uses these exaggerated archetypes to poke fun at the institutions that have endured in society throughout the ages (the film is set in 1928, but was clearly written with modern society firmly in mind).
Aleksandre Koberidze turns in a solid performance as the approachable everyman who serves as the audience’s entry point into this world, as does Lilith Stangenberg as the charmingly parasitic member of the bourgeoisie. However, it is Alexander Herbst who is perhaps most memorable as the endearing servant.
Radlmaier brings a very effective style to his movie. It’s a quirky period piece with some really great production design and excellent cinematography by Markus Koob. There are plenty of images in the film that are absolutely hilarious thanks to Radlmaier’s refreshing eye for visual comedy.
Bloodsuckers is certainly one of the coolest movies in recent memory in that it is unapologetically itself. It’s a unique blend of art house cinema and cult-classic-to-be that fills a void that we didn’t know existed.
Bloodsuckers is now screening as a part of the Berlinale Industry Event, running virtually from March 1-5, 2021.