Chris Alexander is not a name everyone would be familiar with. Although if you are a horror fan, chances are you know who he is. In 2010 Alexander became the editor-in-chief of famed horror magazine Fangoria. He brought new attention to the magazine and kept it rolling until leaving in 2015 in favor of pursuing other interests. Among his other interests are writing film reviews, masterminding other cult magazines such as Delirium, which he launched with filmmaker Charles Band, writing and performing music and writing and directing films. His first film, Blood for Irina, was released in 2012 and is available on Blu-ray and DVD. I have had the film for quite some time but always found it challenging to review it. Until now.
Irina (Shauna Henry) is a vampire. She has lived for centuries but finds herself finally dying. Living in an old motel with an obsessive motel manager and a broken prostitute as the only people in her life, Irina bides her time, stalking the streets at night and taking stock of her life as it decays.
There are two things to keep in mind before watching Blood for Irina. One is that Alexander is a huge fan of artistic European horror films from directors like Jean Rollin and Jess Franco. The second thing to remember is that he has no interest in following anybody’s rules for filmmaking. Yes Blood for Irina has elements influenced from films of the past but Alexander’s approach to the story, the visuals, the music and the atmosphere are entirely his own. The film is slow paced, which is not a bad thing as many think. Instead of slow I would opt for the word deliberate. His visuals are dreamy and sultry like a fever dream you wake up from and wonder what the hell just happened. And his music is less a traditional score than an experiment in sound and tones. All of these elements, and the performances by Henry and the rest of the cast, come together into one surreal experience. Many people have commented that they couldn’t follow the film and that they found it confusing but I think that is more of a fault of someone’s approach to watching the film, not a fault of the filmmaker. I don’t know that I could say I ‘enjoyed’ Blood for Irina, I don’t know if it is meant to be a film to enjoy, but it was a film that I was immersed into, captivated by and intrigued by. Not to mention impressed by. Blood for Irina is more of a fluid painting than a film for me. And for all of that Alexander deserves credit for being true to his vision and intentions. I don’t know if we will ever see Chris Alexander make the transition to a traditional narrative film. And I’m not sure I would want him to. If you want something different but most definitely creative, check out Blood for Irina.