J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Vidar the Vampire: Undead in Norway

Usually, vampires are seductive, as in Anne Rice novels, or sophisticated, like vintage Bela Lugosi. Sadly, Vidar Hårr is just plain awkward, but its not his fault. He’s Norwegian. Alas, the nocturnal existence of the undead just isn’t what he was hoping for in Thomas Aske Berg & Frederik Waldeland’s Vidar the Vampire (trailer here), which releases today on VOD, under the Dread Central Presents imprimatur.

Poor Hårr still lives with his mother, so it is no surprise he never had any luck with the ladies. He works like a dog on the farm and his only outside life comes on Sundays at their speaking-in-tongues church. Hårr desperately prays for a little action—and lo and behold, his wish is granted. Suddenly, he is a blood-dependent, light-sensitive vampire. He will learn the ropes of the hedonistic undead lifestyle from none other than the thoroughly debauched Jesus himself.

That water into wine gimmick always impresses women. Unfortunately, Hårr just can’t get with the program, even after a few resurrections. Frankly, he cramps his style so badly, Jesus starts to leave Hårr leashed up outside nightclubs, like a dog. At least Hårr has sought help from a shrink, to whom he tells his unlikely tale of woe, but he obviously needs years of therapy.

So yes, the land of fjords has brought us a depiction of Jesus Christ as a sociopathic playboy. The good news is whatever bad things you did during the making Vidar probably went unnoticed upstairs. His grace is infinite, but Brigt Skrettingland should still cut down on the cholesterol. In any event, it turns out Night of the Virgin isn’t the most offensive film we’re reviewing here today, which is saying something.

The thing is, unless you are completely besotted with the film’s transgressive, borderline blasphemous premise, it really isn’t that funny. V the V hits roughly the same notes over and over. Honestly, it is downright mean-spirited in its treatment of Hårr, not that he is an especially likable character anyway. Yet, they periodically harken back to his former innocence by having the actor who played young Hårr reprise the role in select present-day scenes, for dramatic effect. It is a striking technique, but it undercuts the pervasive nihilism required for most of the film’s humor (including a rather misogynistic sequence—seriously, Samantha Bee’s favorite word is used twice in the imdb credits to describe characters involved—and we’re not talking about “ineffectual”).

Berg is certainly gawky as Hårr, but it is debatable whether he really expresses any deeper human feelings. For better or worse, Skrettingland goes all in as the maniacal Jesus, so maybe we should all pray for his soul (or be grateful Buddha has a sense of humor about these things). Henrik Rafaelson also deserves credit for tapping into his inner Elmer Gantry as the faith-healing Pastor Tor Magne Abrahamsen.

If you want to see a film that pushes the envelope of good tastes (or rather vomits all over the envelope) than Night of the Virgin is the VOD film to dial up this week. Vidar has plenty of shock value, but it lacks a similar one-damn-thing-after-another cumulative impact. Only for those interested in extreme novelty, Vidar the Vampire releases today on VOD.

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