Billed as the first Japanese avant-garde, vampire silent film, Sanguivorous, directed by Naoki Yoshimoto, is a dark, disturbing film based on the premise of a young girl (Ayumi Kakizawa) unknowingly descended from a lineage of vampires whose own vampiristic tendencies emerge with the onset of a 2000 year old curse. Unfortunately it is her boyfriend who becomes the target of her new-found appetite and the subsequent blood-spurting and -sucking violence sees the film enter into depraved territory.
Being labeled as an avant-garde movie you would hardly expect a straightforward story and indeed Sangivorous is difficult to understand, especially considering the lack of dialogue in it, bar a few captioned sequences. Its appeal lies instead in being more of an aural and visual experience, making up for in aesthetic what it lacks in narrative. Images of twisted forms writhing in dark, abyssal spaces and eerie trips through forests are what leaves a lasting impression on the viewer rather than any coherent storyline. The music as you would expect befits such an experience with a soundtrack made of unsettling, ambient music punctuated by demonic howls and screams.
The production quality of the film is limited and the flaws in the film are so glaringly obvious. Shot on low-quality HD cameras, Sangivorous is hardly the most visually appealing watch. The colours in the film are either stark and blown-out or grainy and blurred. Whether this lo-fi aesthetic is purposeful is uncertain, however it does somewhat take away from the seriousness of the film, particularly one which strives to have such a visceral impact on the viewer in its grotesqueness. It can’t help but betray a sense that the ‘avant-garde’ tag was used more as a way of dressing up a weak plot-line and sub-par film production.
Not a completely unrewarding watch but one which you have to be in the right frame of mind to get anything out of. Even then most viewers will find the film to be something worthy of checking out for curiosity’s sake but won’t stand up to repeated viewings.
One extra – “The Making of Sanguivorous” Short film.
DIRECTOR(S): Naoki Yoshimoto | COUNTRY: Japan | YEAR: 2012 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): MVD Visual | RUNNING TIME: 56 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 1.33:1 | REGION: 1/NTSC | DISCS: 1