On a trip to Romania with his girlfriend Livia, Alex is in a car accident and is rushed to the hospital. They cut the vacation short and return home to where he has to worry about his upcoming photography exhibit while recovering. A news paper from Romania talks of contaminated blood but they don't think any more about it - until Alex starts acting strange.
As much as I have come to dislike the vampire genre I have to admit that there are interesting ones coming out too. They're not always treating the subject with complete originality, but that's also part of the charm of using vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc. They come with some baggage that is usually used to some extent. This is the case with "Chimères", a vampire movie focusing on the change in priorities of an artist, the life he lives together with his girlfriend, and how their relationship both breaks and grows at the same time.
Alex and Livia are on a vacation to her home country Romania, but after a drunken night out Alex is hit by a car and is seriously injured. While he's in the hospital, Livia decides that they have to return home for his recovery - for obvious reasons. When they get back home he's soon on his feet again and ready to work on his photography exhibition, but there are some definite scars from the accident. Mostly he doesn't really feel like he's completely focused or in the moment any more, and soon starts to see things in the mirror such as grown teeth. Upon asking Livia if she has noticed that his teeth have grown, she quickly dismisses him and thinks no more of it. But Alex can't let it go, and when he sees an article from Romania about how blood has been contaminated in hospitals he starts to wonder if maybe he's infected by something. But what is it? Is he becoming a vampire, or is it all a hallucination? It's not until he starts taping trash bags over his windows and pukes from regular food that Livia notices that something is wrong.
"Chimères" is mostly a drama about the changes and the relationship of the two, but once the "transformation" is complete it has some total horror scenes. They quickly bring us back to the fact that vampires hunt for blood, and any respectable vampire movie should treat them like animals. There is a nice switch from the two genres in the movie, but I personally found more to appreciate in the drama department. It's more developed and emotional (obviously), but also doesn't sting as much from being typical. I wouldn't say the movie is all that original, but the story between the couple is still an intriguing one that I really wanted to continue following. It's good that it moves to horror territory more and more, though it lacks the atmosphere and attention that I found in the rest of the movie. It's not really until the last couple of minutes that it yet again turns to something we're invested in. Still not bad at all, considering some of the terrible vampire movies we have been treated to.
There are some "juicy" bits in the movie. The gore isn't bad at all, we have a few great effects in form of ripped throats, bites and even have a spinal cord pulled off at one point. It doesn't hold back the blood either, which certainly helps the beast in Alex come to life for us. Another notable scene would be the very steamy, animalistic sex scene between the two, which doesn't shy away (while not being explicit). The only bits I didn't really appreciate were some of the mirror scenes (such as when Alex sees himself covered in blood). It takes you out of the moment, as the "scary version" of Alex sometimes treats the movie like more of a B-horror than a drama with horror elements.
They are both strong leads, but it's hard not to hand it to Jasna Kohoutova here. She certainly has the roughest character to portray, as the worried, scared and loving girlfriend who has to undergo a transformation of her own - albeit a more psychological one. She's as much of a rock to Alex in the movie, as she is to us as an audience.
I think "Chimères" does a lot of things right - it blends drama with the violent and sexual nature of the vampire. However it's not as original as something like "Thirst" by Chan-wook Park which I personally liked a lot. Still, it doesn't necessarily do things wrong, it just doesn't re-invent enough for it to stand out. There have been a lot of personal stories of someone turning into a vampire (or something else), and usually it is done by similar beats as this one. It's not a bad addition to a genre that has been heading in the wrong direction for a long time, but it won't be the vampire movie to define this generation (like how movies like "Fright Night" or "The Lost Boys" often get to represent the vampires in the '80s). Watch the movie if you get a chance, I don't see any reason not to if you're curious.