Imagine if Taken were a blood-filled slow burn with vampires and a dash of espionage. That in essence is writer-director Chris Sanders’ new film Nest of Vampires...
...When MI5 agent Kit Valentine (Tom Fairfoot, Red Room, The Crown) finds his daughter has been kidnapped and his wife murdered, he sets out to a rural England town in hopes of tracking down the kidnappers and getting revenge.
Intercut with Kit’s investigation we see his daughter Anna (Daria Krauzo, Mar de plástico) being held against her will by an organization that is clearly in the human trafficking business. Heading this nefarious group is Samuel Archer (Hans Hernke, 2017’s The Howling) and his eccentric henchman Mario (Jon-Paul Gates, They’re Outside). Unfortunately for them both, taking Anna as their victim turns out to be a worse decision than they bargained for.
I realized partway through watching Nest of Vampires that my expectations about who the vampires were was being twisted. We most often see vampires as villains rather than heroes—unless you count something like Blade—and the shift of my expectations made the movie’s ultimate twist all the more interesting.
Another aspect of the daywalker Nest of Vampires explores in some depth is the use of lapis lazuli. The film opens with a title card explaining the mystical traits of the stone. Whether you know of it from shows like Steven Universe or The Vampire Diaries, you may be familiar with some of the stone’s properties. Nest seems to have followed the example of Vampire Diaries in using the lapis lazuli as a way for vampires to walk in the sun.
Fun fact: ancient Egyptians used lapis lazuli in many areas of life, such as jewelry, makeup, and artwork. Michelangelo even used the stone as pigmentation for his work; the blue hue that results from grinding the stone to a powder produced astonishingly bright colors when put to canvas.
The relatively low budget of the film never shows in a way that takes you out of the film’s narrative hold, despite a few instances of the camera visibly shaking.
Fairfoot’s performance as Kit carries the film as we watch the thread slowly unravel. He adds a subtle charm to the role that makes the film’s twist and pay-off all the more worth it. Gates’ performance as Mario is perhaps the one that shines through the most, however. Despite it being a supporting role, Gates’ skillful balance between playful and sinister right from the film’s beginning ensures he steals every scene he’s in.
Joining Fairfoot as Kit on his journey is Jet Jandreau (The Trail, Wuthering Heights) as Simone. Their initial meeting felt to me more like something out of a spy thriller. I found myself wondering if they were talking in code, saying things that meant something else we weren’t necessarily aware of. While I enjoyed Nest of Vampires and the twists its story took, this strange dialogue exchange and its delivery didn’t land for me. It felt wonky and out of place with the rest of the film and took me, for a moment, out of the story.
That being said, I enjoyed Nest of Vampires immensely for the slow burn vampire flick that it was. In particular I enjoyed Chris Sanders’ directing and Oliver Arthurs’ cinematography working together to elevate the story. I enjoyed the long shots between characters, and even the scenes that felt a little emptier than others were impressive when we consider how COVID-19 has upended and changed the way movies are filmed, whether they’re big budget blockbusters or smaller independent films like this one.
Nest of Vampires is a fun, twisting ride. If you love mystery, suspense, and blood then this not-your-average-vampire film will certainly be worth a watch.
Nest of Vampires is now available to rent or buy at www.nestofvampires.com
By Kalani Landgraf
Celebrate Women in Horror Month with us by donating to Cinefemme at: Donate cinefemme.net