You’re in trouble when a film pushes Mr Highlander (1986) himself, Christopher Lambert, as its ‘star’! Metamorphosis, by Hungarian director Jeno Hodi (responsible for such gems as Guns and Lipstick (1995)), and co-starring virtual unknowns Corey Sevier, Irena A. Hoffman, Jeniffer Higham and Charlie Hollway, is a straight to DVD release that is unlikely to last as long as the centuries old bloodsucker at the centre of its story.
Keith (Sevier), Kim (Higham) and J.J. (Hollway), are in the Carpathian Mountains in order to visit the home of Elizabeth Bathory, the legendary Blood Countess, about whom Keith is writing a book. On the way they pick up the mysterious Elizabeth (Hoffman), who says she knows the castle and can take them there. An offer they may not live to regret!
After an atmospheric period prologue (set in a 17th century, Carpathian Mountain village) which explains the reasons behind the strange present day occurrences which form the basis for the film, things go steadily downhill (literally at one point when the jeep Keith, Kim, J.J. and Elizabeth are traveling in takes a particularly steep hillside detour).
The promise of the opening scene, reminiscent of Hammer’s glory days with a funeral and group of superstitious yokels, one of whom suddenly produces a stake which he drives through the corpse which is about to be buried, evaporates quicker than a vampire exposed to sunlight. No sooner do the Americans arrive in their open top sports car, than the film simply becomes another Twilight (2008) hybrid, full of misty forests and ravenous wolves. Twenty minutes in and the character of Keith begins to irritate with his Abercrombie and Fitch hair and acting which has as much life as the wooden stakes he drives through the vampires, whilst Kim and J.J. just irritate. As for the aforementioned ‘star’ of the film, Lambert just plays, Lambert. Enough said.
This film could have been good. Clearly shot on location, the castles and villages in which its story unfolds are beautiful in typically eastern European fashion, and captured in rich, sumptuous hues, whilst the historical flashback is reasonably faithful to the story of Elizabeth Bathory. Unfortunately, by the end it is nothing more than a confusing mix of religious hokum and time lapse, supernatural adventure. Like Bathory’s castle itself, Metamorphosis may be worth a brief visit, but I wouldn’t linger long.