David Rühm’s Therapy for a Vampire, which screened at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, is a spry, witty and likable Gothic comedy that puts Sigmund Freud together with a pair of undead shape-shifters in 1932 Vienna.
Director David Rühm displays an encyclopaedic knowledge of classic horror tropes, with his arch-fiend gliding along with the camera like Lon Chaney Jnr in Son of Dracula, or moving out of sync with his shadow like Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. An unusually in-depth familiarity with vampire folklore allows him to include in his film, for the first time that I’m aware of, the vampire’s mythic mania for counting: if objects are spilled on the floor, a vampire must stop what he’s doing to gather them up and count them. OK, I suppose Sesame Street’s Count may have exploited this trait previously. But it’s a great device, since it implies that vampirism and obsessive-compulsive disorder may be connected, and suggests that this particular vampire may not be misguided in seeking the help of a therapist.
Tobias Moretti is both graceful and funny as the lovelorn Count, turning in a physical performance that successfully bridges the gap between supernaturally creepy and funny. Jeanette Hain as his black-bobbed partner embodies the word ‘vamp’. There’s also an all-too-rare chance to see David Bennent, former child star of The Tin Drum and Legend, as his disfigured chauffeur and victim-supplier.
Combining a few simple locations with plenty of fairy tale CGI to create some phantasmagoric settings, the movie manages to look beautiful on a budget.
Watch the trailer: