Tokyo Vampire Hotel – Sydney Underground Film Festival Review

'Tokyo Vampire Hotel' 'Tokyo Vampire Hotel'

In a time when the vampire genre has gone stale, 'Tokyo Vampire Hotel' emerges as a breath of fresh air, delivering an art house tale bleeding with guts and gore, albeit a choppy storyline and even choppier characters.

It all makes sense when you realise that what you are watching isn’t a film in completion, but an epic nine-part series originally commissioned by Amazon Prime Video and then sliced, diced and rearranged into a not-so-succinct 2 hours and 22 minutes, ready to hit the festival circuit running.

If I can summarise it in so few words, it’s the story of a vampire feud between the Romanian ancestors of Dracula and the Japanese Corvins who have driven them underground.

Both are in search of Manami, an unlucky girl who was fed ancient vampire blood as a baby and whose blood boils with a power that will fully activate when she turns 22.

What ensues is a colourful cornucopia of mayhem and mutiny carried by the emotionally confused Manami who spends most of her on-screen time running and screaming into the night, hotly pursued by vampires whose motivations change at the drop of the hat and actions never cease to surprise.

They’re garish. Yet, they’re compelling, leaving you craving for a richer back-story to complete their muddled selves.

Cinematographically, Sion Sono puts his stamp on this film as though it were a cult classic, marrying sepia tones with neon bright walls and garish blood squibs with moulded decapitated heads as blood baths flood around him.

It’s ridiculously fun and oddly addictive. Just try not to make too much sense of it all when the credits roll in.

Sydney Underground Film Festival takes place at Factory Theatre 13-16 September.

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