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By James Teitelbaum | July 4, 2009

Here is a stylishly shot thriller from Brazil, which gives a peek into the life of a vampire with a guilt complex. Presented entirely without dialogue, writer/director Carlos G. Gananian’s film tells the story of a creature who hates that he must kill in order to survive. As the nameless vampire, Gustavo Arantes lives in a suitably creepy Victorian mansion, sleeping in a covered bathtub to avoid the light of the sun. By night, he hires call girls (all of whom look more or less alike, mostly because they are all played by Roberta Youssef), and reluctantly drains them of their blood for his own sustenance. Bottling the leftover blood and carefully imbibing every last drop (yum, leftovers!), he must still eventually resort to scanning the personal ads for yet another victim. The vampire is lonely and miserable in his lot. Eventually, he finds the only noble way out of his bad situation.

It is pretty hard to do something new with the vampire genre, but Gananian just about succeeds. Had this idea been expanded into a feature film, there would probably not have been enough story or character interest to sustain the running time, so the decision to present this story as a short film was a wise one. Richly saturated cinematography, a few scares, a bit of gore, and a sexy girl who dies twice all help to lift “Akai” (that’s Japanese for “red” – as in blood) a notch above its peers.

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