By: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast) –
Count Graf Geza von Kozsnom (Tobias Moretti) is not happy with his life. He’s been married to his wife Grafin Elsa (Jeanette Hain) for too long. He’s incapable of “self-reflection.” He’s also a vampire, and he’s grown tired of his marriage, spending evening hours on the couch of Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer) pining after the woman who turned him, Nadila. Meanwhile, thick-headed but talented painter Viktor (Dominic Oley) continues to depict his girlfriend Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan) with blonde hair and a dress against her wishes, which coincidentally makes her the spitting image of Nadila, attracting the affections of the Count. As he begins to court Lucy, the vain Elsa, desperate to see her reflection, finds that Viktor is the only one who may be able to paint her accurately, and begins to seduce him. The Count’s servant Radul (David Bennett) also pines after Lucy, forming a weird love pentagon.
While it rarely steps into broad farce, Therapy for a Vampire is effectively silly, owing mostly to David Ruehm’s direction of his players. In particular, Tobias Moretti’s faux Count creepiness and Dominic Oley’s priceless reactions to Elsa make the picture fun. While visual gags aren’t the movie’s foundation, the occasions on which they do show up are executed well and are highly amusing and work well with the sprinkles of slapstick.
Ruehm shoots the picture with a clean, bright aesthetic with a distinct soundstage feel that suits its overblown, theatrical vibe. Given that there are only 6 or so characters with main speaking roles and a small handful of extras, it further feels like a stage production. Crisp VFX blend well with the practical effects–it looks significantly more expensive than it probably is, and even the more noticeably budget-constrained shots are done in a way that feels a bit tongue-in-cheek about its own small checkbook.
The movie also cleanly weaves references to vampire folklore into the narrative, including some of the more obscure ones such as obsessive counting or transformation.
For a film with the word “therapy” in the title, this one has hardly any of it. There are the brief stints on Freud’s couch, but the focus is on the interplay between the characters, and as such there’s not a lot of psychological study or character development to be had. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you go into this expecting a romance farce and not a character piece. For that, this Austrian is the romantic comedy to beat this summer.
Therapy for a Vampire (2016) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: anytime a vampire does something vampiric that goes unnoticed by humans.
Take a Drink: whenever the count references his life as a vampire and Freud misunderstands.
Take a Drink: for each instance of relationship strife.
Do a Shot: for each reference to vampire folklore.