By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Fantasia Film Festival
Playing at Cinéma Impérial
Aug 19th, 2021
Available Aug 21, 2021
to Stream On Demand
Tickets can be purchased here
If there’s ever a vampire movie to breathe new life to a subgenre that’s struggling to bring fresh ideas to the fore, I’d have to say All the Moons is it. Not only do we have a charm in the style of an early del Toro film (Pan’s Labyrinth) but also it takes an idea from Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. The latter goes in a completely different direction with it; we see Claudia’s story unfold too quickly and for this film, it has to be told in 100 mins. The tale that’s presented here is a game changer, as it never once identifies the vampire as pop culture defines it.
The girl we meet here (skillfully played by Haizea Carneros) doesn’t even know what this undead bloodsucker is. She’s rescued. Much of the movie plays out like a dream as she tries to understand her condition.
Writer-director Igor Legarreta (When You No Longer Love Me) sets this period piece right amid the last Carlist war, Any commentary about the situation is made light when what he wants to show is more about the people caught up in the middle.
The tale begins at an orphanage about to be destroyed during the fighting. It’s only by God’s grace that some children survive. The emphasis on one particular girl who is rescued by a woman (Itziar Ituño) is met with trepidation. Although she’s like a Virgin Mary, this stranger’s plan is the opposite. Unfortunately, an encounter with soldiers in the wild lands separates them.
The attention shifts as the young teen is left lost. She finds civilization, and the folks know she needs to be taken to the authorities. However, it’s a long hike to a proper town. She goes unnamed for a good part of the story until Cándidom (Josean Bengoetxea), a kind man, takes her in and calls her Amaia. The bond they forge makes up the core of the film, and he becomes a father-figure.
Undead or not, Amaia has to find her way. Legarreta never wants to identify her as a bloodthirsty scavenger, but sticks to showing her like a chrysalis. By the time she’s ready to hatch, what she becomes is neither scary nor beautiful. She’s still lost to the wind.
The sound design gets better at this stage. We have drifting melodies that sometimes use a music saw and other times your traditional mix. She’s on a quest this time, to get some answers, and she thinks that strange lady has it.
The key theme here is about how to keep the human spirit alive. She’s fully aware she needs blood in order to survive, and how this film succeeds is that the vampire word is never referenced. She compares what she’s become as like a listing cloud against a repeating moon. The actual dialogue is deeply poetic and only makes further allusions to what her life feels like now. We’re not dealing with the folklore or the Bram Stoker version, but something else. This interpretation is perfect as it describes a state of being. Not all ‘vampires’ have to be evil. Some want to live for themselves and be happy, instead of fearing another day.
5 Stars out of 5