fans will hardly be surprised to learn the wife of Jonathan Harker and the
daughter of Abe Helsing is suffering from strange dreams and hallucinations.
However, the figure taking hold of her subconscious is a Bohemian Brazilian
woman rather than a tall dark Transylvanian gent. The visions are disturbing,
but it is unclear whether the archetypal entity wishes to destroy Lucy or
liberate her (or both or neither) in Brazilian filmmaker Monica Demes’ English
language feature film debut, Lilith’s
which premiered at the 2016 Dances with Films.
to the cloddish Harker and still working the cash register for her mechanic
father, Lucy remains unfulfilled in pretty much every way. She has been
carrying on an affair with one of Helsing’s employees, more out of boredom than
passion. Frankly, Arthur’s violent streak would be problematic, but at least it
breaks up the monotony of life. Unfortunately, when Lucy stands up her
pseudo-paramour, he picks up the hitchhiking Lilith in her place. You could say
Lilith is the woman of Lucy’s dreams (or nightmares), who makes short work of
wasn’t much, but Arthur’s absence rattles Lucy. To make matters worse, she
starts to lose time and experience waking dreams that make it difficult to
distinguish fantasy from reality. Than Demes really takes a turn onto Mulholland Drive or Lost Highway, which is rather appropriate, since she was mentored
by David Lynch.
the austerely arty approach to horror motifs works, as in Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (not a
bad comp film for Lilith) and
sometimes it falls flat as a pancake yet inexplicably wins the audience award
at Tribeca (go figure). Happily, Lilith
works rather well because of the way Demes instinctively balances the elements
(including some gore) with the mind-games and the gender politics. Like
Amirpour’s film, Lilith is an
arresting looking film, shot in perversely gorgeous black-and-white by
cinematographers Alfonzo James and Gregor Kresal. Together with Demes, they
frame some wonderfully eerie off-kilter images.
for the cast, Demes’ style has a distancing effect, but MPB-influenced
Brazilian rocker Bárbara Eugênia has the perfectly uncanny and seductive screen
presence to withstand and stand-out. As Lucy, poor Sophia Woodward is sort of stuck
serving as Demes’ angst marionette, but at least Steve Kennevan adds some
saltiness as old Abe.
could also be likened to the Argentine She Wolf, but Demes’ film is actually
more grounded and polished. It is aesthetically ambitious, especially by genre standards,
but she largely pulls it off. Recommended for adventurous cult film fans, Lilith's Awakening is sure to have a long
festival life thanks to Lynch’s god-fathering, following its world premiere at
this year’s Dances with Films.
Labels: Barbara Eugenia, DWF '16, Horror Movies