Directed by Monte Light.
Starring Michael Klug, Christine Nguyen, Helene Udy, Mike Ferguson, Debra Lamb, Meghan Deanna Smith, Joe Altieri, and Jamie Tran.
A recovering heroin addict gets bitten by a shape-shifting vampire and must prevent his girlfriend from the same fate.
Billed as a homage to Nosferatu, anyone going into Blood Covered Chocolate expecting narrative tributes to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece may be slightly disappointed as this is not another take on the silent classic but rather an artistic tale about addiction and obsession, using vampire mythology as a template and paying reverence to cinema in general.
Which gives writer/director Monte Light plenty of ways with which to play with your expectations and take you on a journey that puts the movie in the company of more off-kilter vampire movies such as George A. Romero’s Martin and Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, where the vampiric side of the story is less overt and more symbolic – Christopher Lee in a cape this is not.
The movie begins with Massimo (Michael Klug) and his girlfriend Tien (Christine Nguyen) enjoying some intimate fun with each other. Massimo is a recovering heroin addict and Tien is an alcoholic who is celebrating being sober for a while, and both seem happy and carefree in each other’s company. However, there is a shadow hanging over Massimo and it isn’t the drugs; he has a strange relationship with his mother Barbara (Debra Lamb) and her partner Crate (Joe Altieri), an intimidating bully who may or may not have been involved with the disappearance of Massimo’s father.
After a major confrontation with Crate, where Massimo is told to dump Tien as Crate thinks she is no good for him, Massimo opens the front door and is bitten by what turns out to be an ancient shape-shifting entity, at this point in the guise of Lucky (Jamie Tran) but who later settles on the form of Sofia (Meghan Deanna Smith), convincing Tien that she is Massimo’s new love and setting about convincing him to rid himself of all the bad influences surrounding him by using his new vampiric powers. Reluctant at first, Massimo grows in strength and confidence as he gradually embraces his new form.
Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, with splashes of red, certain scenes in full colour and quick edits where Monte Light cuts in snippets of older movies – Indonesian horror Mystics in Bali provides one of the stark images – Blood Covered Chocolate is clearly a very personal movie for the director and is open to several interpretations involving the nature of addiction, toxic masculinity, incest – Massimo has some very weird thoughts involving his mother that Sofia uses against him – and family, and Massimo is the perfect vessel to carry these themes as he clearly a nice guy who wants a quiet life with Tien but those around him just aren’t going to let him be.
Michael Klug gives a powerhouse performance as Massimo, a sympathetic character in the vein of Norman Bates, and he channels all that pent-up frustration as the people he surrounds himself with want more from him than he is prepared to give them, and the scenes where he goes up against the males in his life bullying him make for the most fun. Joe Altieri as Crate is a nasty piece of work, and you can feel the anger coming from Massimo when the violent thug is pressuring him to do things he doesn’t want to do, and when Crate’s friend Gage (Mike Ferguson) tries the same thing Klug conveys Massimo’s simmering rage expertly, making the scene one of the most intense but also the most satisfying.
But every actor brings something special to their respective parts, making each person on the screen an actual character rather than a caricature or just fodder for the vampire. Combining elements of film noir, horror, romance, drama and black comedy, Blood Covered Chocolate is not a bloodbath in the vein of classic vampire movies, and the biting of necks feels almost secondary to the horrors that Massimo and Tien have to go through. It does happen, and there is some intriguing dialogue between Massimo and Sofia about what being a vampire entails, but there is so much to take in – both visually and narratively – that the movie transcends the genre that lies at its black heart in a way that does not feel forced or contrived.
So as far as the Nosferatu comparisons go, there are some incredibly stylish shots that are saluting back to Murnau – creeping shadows look especially creepy in black-and-white, but with added red filters they look amazing – but Blood Covered Chocolate is very much its own thing, existing in a psychedelic bubble of sights and sounds that suggest a love of cinema and style of storytelling that is incredibly unique.
It may be a little too arthouse for the hardcore horror fan looking for their next fix of bloodsucking action, but let it get inside your head and Blood Covered Chocolate proves to be one of the most original vampire movies to have risen from the grave for quite some time, and marks Monte Light out as a visionary filmmaker to keep an eye on as a voice within the genre.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Source via www.flickeringmyth.com