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By Merle Bertrand | June 27, 2000

This is one vampire (Max Grimm) with an attitude. Then again, you’d be a bit crabby too if you thought you were meeting the woman of your dreams, only to have her turn you into an immortal member of the undead. While immortality doesn’t sound so bad on the surface — maybe you’d be around long enough to see the Cubs win a Series, for instance — our vampiric narrator lets us know that hundreds of years of nocturnal life can have its downside; not the least of which are the repetition and the ability to witness, firsthand, the various patterns of human existence. Centuries of watching mankind repeat the same mistakes and screw each other over the same way time and time again have left him one cynical and pissed off at the world creature of the night.
Max Grimm’s “Stranger Voices” introduces us to this antisocial vampire who, against the backdrop of a serial murder spree that seems to implicate him, does what we all do on a daily basis; just keeps on keepin’ on. It’s only after he strikes up a telephone relationship with an attractive phone sex worker that his un-life begins to gain the tiniest bit of dimension and meaning. But as danger looms in the form of the mysterious serial killer, our star-crossed host learns that even a vampire can get hurt when he opens himself up to love’s lethal bite.
Although “Stranger Voices” drags on a beat or two too long, it’s still a surprisingly effective short film. By combining an off-beat love story with the serial killer staple and the tried and true pathos of the vampire legend, Grimm has created a moody and gloomy, yet grimly ironic concoction. Making effective use of black and white video, Grimm uses only music and wry voice-overs to tell his bloodsucker’s tragic but determinedly non-sentimental tale of social alienation. Ironic, then, that the viewer feels far more empathy for this soulless creature than for many of his big budget cinematic brethren.

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