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THE UNWANTED (BLU RAY) (2014)
Published by David Carter on 2015/8/30 (710 reads)
Directed by Bret Wood
Review by David Carter
Released by Kino Lorber
Running Time: 96 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo English
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Deleted scenes, Making of, short
Trailer Online: Yes
Irishman Bram Stoker gave the world Dracula in 1897, but one of his countrymen had released an equally influential vampire tale 26 years earlier. Sheridan LeFanuís 1871 novella Carmilla was one of the first vampire works and rivals Stokerís for the number of cinematic adaptations it has spawned. Films like THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, THE BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE and BLOOD AND ROSES are all based on the tale, and one could make the argument that a large chunk of Jean Rollin and Jess Francoís vampire films are inspired by LeFanuís novel. More recently, director Bret Wood has adapted this timeless tale again for his latest film THE UNWANTED, now available on Blu Ray from Kino Lorber.
Drifter Carmilla arrives in a sleepy southern town looking for information on her mother, Millarca. She stops by the residence of Troy and his daughter Laura, as their home was listed as a previous address for the mysterious Millarca. Troy sends her away saying they know nothing about the woman, but Laura catches up with Carmilla later that day and invites her to stay with them while sheís in town. The two become fast friends and determine to find out what happened to Carmillaís mother together.
The first revelation occurs when Laura confronts her father about lying to Carmilla, well aware that he did, in fact, know her mother. Troy reveals that Millarca was a drifter, a possibly drug user, and an all-around bad seed, so he only withheld the truth to spare Carmillaís feelings. Furthermore, Millarca was a bad influence on Lauraís mother, Karen, and he fears the same will happen if Carmilla is allowed to stay with Laura. Troy later spins another version of the tale for Carmilla, proving that he hasnít been completely truthful with either woman. As Laura and Carmilla get deeper into the mystery of her mother they find that things in the small town arenít always as they seem, and that Laura may be hiding the biggest secret of all.
Fans of Carmilla adaptations will Woodís take on the tale here. While modernized and removed from its European setting, THE UNWANTED retains the key aspects of the story, including its erotic version of vampirism. THE UNWANTED is a decidedly nontraditional vampire film and offers a modern twist that will be appreciated by audiences. The film rarely delves into overt horror, but instead develops tension early on that finally crescendos at the filmís climax.
For me, Wood missed an opportunity by not using the same actresses for the Karen/Millarca flashbacks as he does for Laura/Carmilla. While the filmís version of vampirism may logically preclude that technique, I feel that it would have added a layer of psychological depth to the film and a surrealism that would allow it to transcend being lumped in with other films in the lesbian vampire subgenre. Furthermore, the filmís attempts at blurring time and dream/reality would have been strengthened by making them more subjective, allowing the audience to interpret these scenes on their own.
Kino Lorberís Blu Ray of THE UNWANTED is a solid release that features an attractive print of the film and a handful of extra features. Star Hannah Fierman has a Barbara Steele quality and her large, haunted eyes make her alternately sympathetic and terrifying which serves the material well. She and co-stars Christen Orr and William Katt give strong performances in a film that is more drama than horror, but one likely to keep fans of both engaged.
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