The third annual Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival kicked off last weekend, and I was on hand to take in some of the sights. The first film was Chris Alexander's vampire opus Queen of Blood.
The vampiric Irina (Shauna Henry) rises from the depths of the forest to bleed dry the neighbouring countryside's inhabitants.
I hadn't seen Alexander's debut Blood For Irina, but from what I'd heard, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from this one. There's no way around it, Queen of Blood is an unabashed art film. It will test your patience at times, but I dug it overall. It was very clear where Alexander's influences lay and he heartily revelled in them. It was impossible to see his lovely wide shots featuring Henry strolling through open fields without thinking of the Euro-horror greats of the past, most notably Jean Rollin.
Though I can't say there is much here in terms of story, there were still things to latch onto. The landscapes were beautiful and the blood covering Henry for most of the film really popped against the greens and browns of her surroundings. Speaking of Henry, she is absolutely striking and maintained an intangible presence throughout. Additionally, by his own admission, Alexander still can't explain how he managed to snag Nivek Ogre for the role of the maniacal preacher. The Skinny Puppy frontman used thirty years of stage performance to his advantage here.
|Shauna Henry & Nivek Ogre in Queen of Blood|
It was an extremely bold decision for Alexander to make a film with absolutely no dialogue, but it somehow seemed fitting. A big help to this device was the remarkable score (composed by Alexander himself) which, not surprisingly, won Best Music at the subsequent Bloody Awards Ceremony.
|Director Chris Alexander with stars Carrie Gemmell & Shauna Henry.|
A film like this can easily come off as a pretentious wank-fest, but I didn't get that vibe. I can appreciate what Alexander was going for with Queen of Blood. It was by no means easily digestible, but the visuals and performance speak for themselves.