Lilith’s Awakening (2016)

84 Lilith's Awakening

Most vampire movies are B-grade comedy horrors that feature supernatural bloodsuckers who live forever on their victim’s blood. But vampires are much more complex than you might think. Just as science fiction plays on our fears of technology, vampire stories go deep into our psyche and have a noble history in literature and film. Vampire themes have always mirrored society’s repressed anxieties and the early films were richly satanic with anti-Christ overtones.  Nowadays they ooze repressed romanticism and ambivalent sexuality that is expressed through a multi-gendered thirst for blood. The independent arthouse film Lilith’s Awakening (2016) retains all the classic vampire heritage with a modern exploration of repressed female sexuality and disempowerment under male domination.

The plotline is minimalist, but plots rarely matter for vampires. Lucy (Sophia Woodward) is a small-town nobody, works in a seedy garage, and is an uptight victim of bullying by her husband and father. She has a loveless life, without self-identity or purpose and is undoubtedly clinically depressed. Only in her dreams does she experience sexual passion, and it is with a hauntingly mysterious beautiful woman. At work, a mechanic makes sexual advances which awaken a sense of empowerment in her and she agrees to meet him one night. This becomes the trigger for a series of events that any rational person might think absurdly incoherent.  Vampire fans, however, know that the smallest transgression is enough to unleash the demonic forces that dwell between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

What makes this movie different is the photography and the atmospherics. Rendered in exquisitely lit black and white with occasional flashes of colour to isolate or contrast a subject, this is a visually stunning work. Many of the scenes would look brilliant if they were framed as monochrome artworks in a high-end gallery, and the musical score combines well with the eerie visuals. The story unfolds as if in a vague mist that distorts the boundaries between reality and dream or a disturbed mind and the supernatural. Many scenes are played out as if in slow motion to impart an aura of trance-like stream of consciousness, but some viewers will feel the need for tighter editing. If you look for action based vampire films, this one is not for you. There are no crucifixes and stakes through hearts and very little blood and gore. But if you follow the rich diversity of the continuously evolving vampire sub-genre, you will find Lilith’s Awakening full of haunting imagery and ambivalent possibilities.

3 half stars

Director: Monica Demes

Stars:  Sophia Woodward, Steve Kennevan, Sam Garles

(With thanks to ChicArt Public Relations, Montreal, for pre-release access. The film premiers at the Hollywood Dances with Films Festival on 11th June 2016. Track it via ChicArt-Public-Relations Facebook)