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Therapy for a Vampire
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by Jay Seaver

"Happily spends much more time running around than on the couch."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2015 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The title of "Therapy for a Vampire" ("Der Vampir auf der Couch" in the original German) suggests something that may not quite be hackneyed, although I'm sure I've seen a vampire getting psychoanalysis before, but which is a fairly specific, self-referential idea. Thus, it's a surprise and a pleasant one for filmmaker David Rühm to go off in a much funnier screwball direction.

There are vampires in 1930s Vienna, make no mistake, and Graf Geza von Közsnöm (Tobias Moretti) is consulting Dr. Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer) about how things just aren't the same with Gräfin Elsa (Jeanette Hain) after a few hundred years of marriage. Freud, meanwhile, is working with young artist Viktor Huma (Dominic Oley) to illustrate dreams, although Viktor has an issue of his own, always painting his girlfriend Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan) with glamorous clothes and makeup rather than the simple trousers she prefers. To further complicate matters, Count Geza has decided that Lucy may be the reincarnation of his long-lost true love Nadila.

In the end, fairly little time is going to be spent on the Professor's couch, and that's all for the best. Geza and Lucy in particular have plans, as does everyone else, though they inevitably spin out of control and bounce off each other. It's a fun, twisty screenplay that Rühm keeps moving without having things become too concerned with just getting through to the end. The pairings probably aren't going to change that much, but there's a lot of motion in making it look that way, and the story is built around the Count and Countess being vampires without necessarily feeling like a vampire story.

Along with the rapid game of musical chairs, Rühm drops a lot of just plain good visual jokes into the movie. Like the plot, they're vampire-related but snappy on their own, from the Count popping out of every shadow to how there are just no work-arounds to the Countess not being able to see herself in the mirror. And other bits; Rühm will occasionally go for well-used jokes, but he seems to feel as though any character or moment in a comedy that could be funny but isn't is wasted, and keeps things moving and light on that account.

He's got some great on-screen collaborators, too. Cornelia Ivancan should rapidly become a favorite; she gives Lucy self-propelled energy even when the character is getting bounced around the story with hypnosis and amnesia, and can keep Lucy a charming tease even at moments when she might easily come across as mean. Tobias Moretti, meanwhile, makes the Count very casually funny and droll without playing him as outwardly drab. He's a funny vampire who doesn't spend a lot of time making jokes and doesn't make himself look ridiculous, either. Their other halves are in the same ballpark, with Jeanette Hain giving a human vanity to her monstrous Countess and Dominic Oley similarly making Viktor quite capable of being a jerk but also never losing sight of how he really does love Lucy more than anything.

The characters play in a Vienna that is clearly not the sort of expensive recreation that a Hollywood studio might go for, with a fair amount of digital-backlot work and making the absolute most of the sets they can build. In some ways, though, this makes for a better atmosphere than something more elaborate; the special effects reinforce the cartoonish nature of the violence and the staging highlights the farce. It's unreal enough to be an unapologetic fantasy even if there are bits that actually do manage to strike a chord.

It's fun and funny that way, making for an hour and a half of genuinely inspired silliness. "Therapy for a Vampire" isn't the movie its title promises, but something a lot more charming and creative.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=29260&reviewer=371
originally posted: 07/19/15 00:25:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/16/16 Clwudia Mendietta excellent romantic comedy horror 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Jun-2016
  DVD: 06-Sep-2016

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Jun-2016
  DVD: 06-Sep-2016


Directed by
  David Rhm

Written by
  David Rhm

Cast
  Tobias Moretti
  Jeanette Hain
  Cornelia Ivancan
  Dominic Oley
  Karl Fischer



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