It’s difficult to create subversion out of a myth that everyone already knows, but it’s even harder to keep it just as recognizable and still make it engaging. That being said, this feature does exactly that with the tale of the vampire. So, in the spirit of finding yet another gem at the Fantasia International Film Festival, I want to say I hope you have a chance to see this one. You won’t regret it.
All The Moons (2021) is directed by Igor Lagarreta who wrote it with Jon Sagalá. I wish I spoke Basque just to understand this film in its native language. We’re in Spain of 1876 during the third Carlist war. An orphanage is hit by bombs. A young girl (Haizea Carneros) survives but is badly hurt. A mysterious woman (Itziar Ituño) rescues her and offers to heal her, but only if she really accepts the act. And with that, a bond is forged and they become mother and daughter, as well as part of group for runaways that hide from society until they’re found by soldiers. As they try to get away, dodging the sunlight, the girl falls down a cliff and loses sight of her mother. Now she’s off on her own.
There’s one obvious legendary myth in the centre of it all, and although it’s never mentioned in the film it’s obviously the vampire legend. That being said, despite how much Amaia (the name the girl eventually is given) has been told she’s unlike regular people, the film is not about how different she is but how much she wants to be mortal, vulnerable and human again. It’s this desire for human connection that she recognizes she wants back as she meets Candido (Josean Bengoetxea) who has also lost everything.
Haizea Carneros shines as Amaia, delivering a performance far beyond her years. Props also go to Josean Bengoetxea as Candido and Itziar Ituño as “mother”. The elements of this fable are there, unnamed but obvious from the start. I think the film did a fine job in showing us what’s going on without actually telling us, which is always a plus. I also found the ending immensely satisfying.
Extremely recommended for fans of horror and fantasy. I found it somehow subverts not its own recognizable vampire genre but how vampire films are usually told. Instead we get an intimate and romanticized ode to humanity and mortality without the classic trappings, giving it a bit of realistic fairy tale spin and filling it with humanity. Very much worth a watch.
That will do for now.