Therapy for a Vampire

The recent resurgence of vampire themed comedies was ignited with last year’s festival circuit smash What We do in the Shadows, and continues this year with David Rühm’s strong Austrian entry Therapy for a Vampire. Rühm’s film focuses on the Count Geza von Közsnöm (Tobias Moretti), a vampire who no longer loves his wife and fears that time has run out to be reacquaint with his true love Nadila. Clinging to faint hope that his lost love will keep her century old promise to return to him after death, the Count relieves his heartache with nightly therapy sessions with none other than Dr. Sigmund Freud (Karl Fischer). In addition to the Count’s troubles is the fact that his current wife, Countess Elsa (Jeanette Hain), is obsessed, to the point of desperation, with the fact that she cannot see her own reflection.

The Közsnöms are not the only couple in Rühm’s tale with problems. Freud’s assistant Viktor (Dominic Oley), who is an aspiring painter, and his fiancée Lucy (Conelia Ivancan) find their relationship hitting rocky ground when their lives intersect with the Közsnöms. The Count is unable to shake the fact that Lucy bears a striking resemblance to his former love, while the Countess cannot help but be drawn to the fact that Viktor’s portraits might serve as the tool to finally grant her the one thing she desires the most.

David Rühm’s script features a robust narrative that takes a simple concept and transforms it into something truly amusing. He gives each character ample time to shine without hindering the central arc of the film. As is the case with most vampire tales, the action chiefly occurs at night, however, the presentation is far from dreary. Cinematographer Martin Gschlacht keenly uses the moonlight to illuminate the proceedings. In fact the moon becomes an important part of the film as its cycle serves as a major plot point within the production.

Tobias Moretti deftly plays the lead role of the Count. He portrays him as an individual who’s bored with eternal life, drinks only bottled blood and attends therapy to restore his will to carry on. Jeanette Hain devours the role of Countess, giving the character an extra sense of gusto, especially in the sequences when she is on the hunt for food. She expertly drifts between deadly one minute and sweet and gentle the next depending on what the situation calls for. Anatole Taubman is also very effective in his supporting turn as Ignaz, who serves as both the Közsnöms driver and the butler who must dispose of the bodies after his masters are fed.

Therapy for a Vampire is a witty vampire tale that does not neglect the staples of vampire lore. Mirrors, garlic, stakes and crosses all figure prominently into the script. Rühm repeatedly makes particularly good use of mythology involving vampire’s obsession with counting throughout the film. The cast is strong, the dialogue falls into a superb rhythm, and 1932 Vienna is an ideal setting for the story. All of this makes Therapy for a Vampire a film that I highly recommend.

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