Not Like Others on DVD

Monday, 25 October 2010 06:58

With vampires enjoying continuing popularity on television and in books, we are being presented with variations upon a theme, some of which seek to treat vampires in a more sympathetic manner.  These include the idea of realism as applied to the concept of a blood-sucking night-dweller.  “Let the Right One In” painted a picture of the vampire as more a victim of its state than as a predator.  “Not Like Others” compares itself to the earlier film, but fails to match either its atmosphere or tone.

The realism in NLO is really no more than the absence of either a fantasy or horror element.  Are the sisters actually vampires?  Apart from the Swedish title, “Vampyrer” (translated as NLO) there are no mentions of the 'V' word, nor is there ever indication that the girls are anything other than seriously disturbed individuals with a penchant for drinking blood.  

Not Like Others out now on UK DVDVera (Jenny Lampa), the more predatory of the two, utilises a small pocket blade to bleed her victims; no fangs, no claws, no obvious paranormal attributes at all.Their shared background remains vague.  Whether you consider that to be 'realism' or just a cynical way to reduce the special effects budget (there aren't any by the way) is a matter for the viewer.  The more sensible sister, Vanja (Ruth Vega Fernandez), dreams of blending in and enjoying a normal relationship.  And it's a theme of relationship that provides the main plot behind the film; can Vanja really leave Vera and go her own way and what will Vera do to prevent this, as she believes her sister has no chance of being accepted by society. 

At times the sisters bicker over Vera's 'over-indulgence' and potential weight-gain, which is an amusing aside amongst the more soap-opera conversations otherwise enacted.

It's Vera's over-enthusiasm for killing that steers the sisters on to a collision course with a gang of bikers, and gives the director an opportunity for numerous chases through the streets of Stockholm.  Unfortunately, despite a great deal of time spent on this pursuit there is no real sense of atmosphere, just some interesting views of a city in the quiet hours of the night.  However, for me, this just threw up the most annoying question of the film: how is it, in an entire city, that the bikers are able to locate two girls so easily?  And these are girls who are supposed, if they are in truth vampires, to be most at home when it's dark! 

It's the lack of a paranormal or supernatural element that weakens the film.  I found myself waiting for something to happen and, despite all the violence, running and talking, nothing does.

If “Not Like Others” had been the story of two disturbed sisters, adrift in a confused and violent night world which lies beneath the façade of modern Stockholm, then it may have made for a more engaging film, with something tangible to say about the nature of society.  Perhaps it is simply a story about alienation that chooses to portray itself as a vampire film.  If so, it's a clumsy attempt which renders the film all the weaker.

“Not Like Others” is out now through Chelsea Films, with a ‘15’ certificate, a running time of 78 minutes approx, and a RRP of £12.99 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

ALTERNATIVE REVIEW BY JOHN PAYNE (THE SECOND OPINON!)

Vampire movies, TV series and fiction tend to come in one of three flavours: the softer, supernatural romance of “Twilight”, the vicious and visceral “30 Days of Night”, and lastly the disquieting realism of “Let The Right One In” and “Martin”. Sweden’s “Not Like Others” definitely falls into the latter category; its vampires drink our blood but display no physical characteristics of bestial vampires. Essentially, they are human.

The plot follows two desperate sisters afflicted with a vampiric, genetic curse. Jenny Lampa plays younger sister Vera, whilst Ruth Vega Fernandez is Vanja. They roam the streets of Stockholm by night, homeless and without any goal other than to find the source of their next meal and some shelter. Vera prefers to lure hapless or seedy victims into a trap, whilst Vanja wants to ‘go straight’ and steal from blood banks.

Their contrasting approaches to lunch and life infuse further friction in their already fraught relationship. On one fateful night whilst in a nightclub, Vera is almost raped by a burly biker, but – turning the tables on the sexual predator – she stabs him in the neck and drinks him dry. They flee the scene, but the victim’s biker mates identify them and hunt them across the city. From then on, their perilous lifestyle becomes even more precarious.

“Not Like Others” is the debut feature from writer/director Peter Pontikis. It is a very short film at 70 minutes and even then, not a lot happens. Most of the time is spent watching the girls sprint down dark streets, up staircases and down into the subways to escape the robot-like bikers blessed with Terminator-level patience and persistence. Occasionally the siblings do venture into buildings looking for a viable victim or simply a few hours solace, such as when they gatecrash a party.

The movie is also rather bland in appearance. The picture is grainy, it is always raining and the buildings are drab, such as the uninviting subways featuring grey concrete with cold lighting and metalic handrails. Because events always take place at night, not many people make an appearance other than the sisters and the bikers. It all sounds like a recipe for the most tedious film ever, right?

Well, no. Fortunately for us, Pontikis makes a reasonable stab at presenting an engaging story that is greater than the sum of its parts. The point of the entire piece is that the lives of these two vampires are far from romantic or attractive. They live like rats, hiding by day and darting about by night, always having to remain alert to danger. They live in a bustling city but their view of it is typically one of isolation and separation – hence the movie’s title. They look like everyone else but their curse means that they have to lead very different existences. They avoid making friends because they fear their secret will be discovered and they will be killed, or misunderstood and consequently locked up like lunatics.

The first half of the film is quite slow and relatively gentle except for one or two quick and nasty incidents, but in the latter stages the biker gang closes in, and the tension and excitement mounts. Outnumbered and lacking the killer instinct or supernatural powers of Buffy’s vampires, the outlook seems bleak.

In summary, this is not a film without merit. It will probably be of interest to those looking for a more realistic take on horror, having had their fill of flowery or super-strength critters. Regrettably, the asking price seems quite steep given the short running time and lack of special features (beyond a trailer), so my advice would be to rent it out or wait for it to come down in price.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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