[Fantastic Fest Review] Tour Norway’s Nightlife in VIDAR THE VAMPIRE

The Norwegian horror-comedy Vidar The Vampire (VampyrVidar, 2017) is an ….interesting take on the classic “Boy Meets Vampire, Boy Loses Life” genre. Borrowing from the American Indie handbook with a European  sensibility, the film delivers a story that is both odd and absurd. While this might have been the raunchy foreign gem on my teenage movie shelf, Vidar The Vampire is an occasional laugh-out-loud romp that left adult-me curious about Kevin Smith’s (Tusk, Yoga Hosers) international appeal.

A scrappy indie project from writer/director duo Thomas Aske Berg and Fredrik Waldeland, Vidar The Vampire tells the story of Vidar (Thomas Aske Berg), a Christian farmer who feels he has wasted his life toiling on the family farm. After years of begging Christ to bring him a life of intrigue, excitement, and women, he is visited by his savior. A slightly more graphic take on the “drink from my cup” portion of vampire films, Vidar is lead to his barn where a vampire claiming to be Christ (Brigit Skrettingland) has come to give him eternal life (and possibly Herpes). Vidar’s health quickly declines and after a fatal dose of Vitamin D is administered via sunlight, he is born-again into darkness.

   
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Promising to answer his prayers, Christ takes Vidar about town to help him experience the pleasures he has denied himself. Like a bachelor party in Las Vegas, they gallivant about town drinking in all the city has to offer. Deep down, Vidar knows that the monster he has become is not the person he wants to be. His nightly escapades are unfulfilling and soulless. The more time he spends under Christ’s wing, the more he questions the path he is expected to follow. He also dies quite a lot- which I’m sure becomes tiresome after the third go-around.

Tragically, Vidar The Vampire frames it’s story in an overused template. Relaying his story to a new therapist, we tumble from moment to moment with little thread connecting the pieces. While the film is by no means incoherent, a through-line is missing to make Vidar’s story more than just a collection of bar stories. Vidar’s view of himself is clear throughout the film. He doesn’t need a therapist to work through any burning questions or deep buried trauma. Vidar is in search of a new path, a new leader to follow, but we are missing strong moment where he finds the strength to become that person for himself. In a way, he does blaze his own trail but we are given such little time to enjoy his new life with him.

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Vidar The Vampire had a few big laughs but seemed unsure of the type of story it was telling. Book-ended by romantic melancholy right out of Taika Waititi’s arsenal, the majority of the film is crude, irreverent, and oddly sexual. Vidar is a perfect character for a late bloomer’s coming-of-age, and replacing sexuality with vampirism seems like a natural choice. But ultimately, he is neither sympathetic or pathetic enough for us to feel anything about him.
1.5 / 4 eberts

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JonOnAString

Jonathan is Co-Host and Co-Creator of Nightmare on Film Street. He’s also a coffee grinding, craft beer drinking, bearded lady in disguise. His favorite horror movies are Evil Dead 2, The Thing, & Videodrome.