Del Torro gives us a good twist on the vampire tales, showing bloodlust as an addiction for humans, except that it is not taking blood that the characters desire, it is giving blood which in turn provides eternal life. Strong performances added to the new take on an old story make this a good film, but a lack of action and scares may put most viewers off. It manages to provoke some thoughts and emotions, but fails to strongly impact the audience.
In the 16th century a device is created which looks both like a golden spider and piece of jewellery. However, it is this device which can give eternal life as once attached to your arm it sucks your blood, somehow enabling you to be invulnerable. The device appears in the late 20th century in the hands of an ageing antique dealer Gris, who has had a difficult life of pain and struggling for money. Soon though he works out the power of the device and feels younger and stronger. He begins to fall under the strength of the machine, forgetting about the only thing he loves- his granddaughter. Meanwhile, an old millionaire has been tracking down the device all his life, he will die soon but wants to save himself. His ungrateful nephew Angel hates his uncle but must do his bidding, and goes in search of the device putting Gris and his young granddaughter in danger. Can Gris resist the temptation of eternal life and protect his granddaughter, or will he succumb to its power forever?
The film does move slowly and does not follow many of the vampire story traits. If you are expecting a full blown, or even subtle horror movie, look elsewhere. This is more of a drama, dealing with the agony of moving towards death, trying to cling to every last gasp, and eventually acceptance of fate. There are touching scenes, made strong because of the performances of Luppi and Shanath. The story is interesting enough to keep you watching, and Ron Perlman injects some pace, strength and humour. The final scenes are good, the whole film is filmed beautifully with good use of light and shadow. Worth watching for fans of Del Torro, a good symbol of where he would go in later films, this remains his most moving work beside the recent Pan’s Labyrinth. The DVD is light on features.
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