Irina is a vampire who has a limited time left to live. She lives in a rundown hotel where the owner is interested in Irina's life and behavior. On the streets Irina meets a prostitute. These three peoples' paths are soon to be crossed...
It comes as no surprise when a person like Chris Alexander, mostly known for his time running the Fangoria magazine, decides to make a movie that expectations will be flying all over the place. Personally he is a complete stranger to me. I know his name because I know Fangoria, but I'm actually not an avid reader of that (or other) magazines, so his opinion on movies is in the dark here. I think with "Blood For Irina" he is wearing his influences on his sleeve, so it's not hard to figure out where-abouts the inspiration came from - Europe.
We follow Irina in her last days alive. She's a vampire, but yet her time is counted. Irina is staying at an old, moldy hotel near water, where she can bring home victims without risking anything. Even though the hotel manager is very much there, he's fascinated by Irina and is watching her every step outside of the room. What does he do when he finds one of her victims? Irina walks the streets as night and observes as a young woman is selling her body on the streets. The hotel manager and the prostitute are both going to play a part in Irina's eventual demise.
Chris Alexander's flick is in many ways a modern low-budget vampire flick in style with Jean Rollin, without the erotica. It's moody, slow and doesn't have vampires that fall in love nor do they act as monsters. They're very much erotic/romantic, and while they crave blood you can't deny the beauty and the mystery they hold. Jean Rollin isn't the only one who has brought this kind of vampires into cinema, but no doubt a poster child of sorts due to the number of titles he churned out. Certain titles by Herzog and Franco are close to heart in this one too. Chris Alexander basically brings influences from atmospheric EuroHorror into his little movie. I do think he has captured some of that essence and used it well in "Blood For Irina". This is one of the strengths, and it's good to remember the importance of the atmsphere in a movie like this.
Where the atmosphere is solid, "Blood For Irina" suffers more in terms of quality. It's not poorly made, but it comes with a rather uninspired look and attempts at getting away with cheaper effects. Cheap as in "low of cost", not "cheesy". The effects consist of blood rather than wounds, and most of the time that's okay, but in a few shots you'd expect to see something a bit more gruesome. But you don't, really. As for the look - for a movie that is inspired greatly by very poetic and visually beautiful movies, there are only a couple of parts in "Blood For Irina" that would fit the criteria. It doesn't stand out in the cinematography or post coloring/filtering/etc. If it had been a more visual experience, it would also have had me excited about it. In many Euro classics even the locations were enough to please visually. Here you get a hotel/hotel room, a city and occasionally autumn woods with a very much video look to it.
The first thing you'll notice about "Blood For Irina" is how slow it is. You all know I can sit through hours upon hours of slow flicks, but this one stood out as really slow. It takes several minutes of shots of the hotel for the story to begin, and this is the tempo the movie sticks to. The critic in me would say it's a push for artistic merit, but the filmmaker in me thinks it's a way to make the movie longer. Especially when so much of the movie is in slow motion. Which one is true, I don't know, but I don't feel the movie handled being slow very well. Had it been shorter then maybe much of the point would be lost, but you'd essentially have the same story if this was only 35-40 minutes long.
I really like where Chris Alexander is coming from with this one, and it's a fun debut feature in that it pays a lot of tribute to the classics. It might not bring a whole lot of new things to the table as an experience, but it's not too bad. The atmosphere is present even when things like slow motion and the uninspired look distracts you. "Blood For Irina" might come to inspire people to attempt to make films themselves, but I personally think we will see something better from Chris Alexander in the coming years. Maybe even his next film, "Queen of Blood", will improve on the flaws of "Blood For Irina".