Metamorphosis (2007)

Rating: C+

Dir: Jenö Hodi
Star: Corey Sevier, Irena A. Hoffman, Christopher Lambert, Charlie Hollway

This opens with a flashback to 1610, where infamous countess Elizabeth Bathory has her reign of terror brought to an end by Palatine Thurzo, and her daugher of the same name, whisked off to foster parents. This will be very important. In the present day, three immensely-irritating American head to Hungary, where Keith (Sevier) is doing research on his pet topic of Bathory. They meet Elizabeth (Hoffman), who comes along on their mission; remarkably, they completely fail to join the dots, based on Elizabeth’s aversion to crosses and mirrors, or the fact they met her in the dead of night. In a graveyard.

Our trio team up with a couple of other tourists [one of whom is played by the marvellously-named Ganxsta “Döglégy” Zolee] for the tour of Bathory’s estate, and find that Constantine Thurzo (Lambert), a descendant of the Palatine, is there, with an eye on claiming it for himself, despite the curse the Countess leveled on his people. Vampiric stuff ensues – though not quite how you might expect. Particularly in the first half, this is pretty dire stuff, with much of the entertainment value in Sevier’s resemblance, at certain angles, to George Michael. This is enhanced because his sidekick (Hollway) is every bit as useless as the other bloke from Wham!

We were also amused by Keith apparently referring, at one point, to Countess “Battery”, part of his efforts to win the Least Convincing Historical Scholar Oscar. Lambert evaporates after two scenes, and it looks like his was one of those roles designed solely to lure in the indiscriminate video buyer. About the only element of any interest was Hoffman who is, shall we say, not exactly hard on the eyes. And then something odd happened, the film became… Well, “good” is probably still a bit of a stretch, so let’s settle for “different.” The spark that set things on fire was the unexpected return of Lambert, now playing someone rather different. He does so with style, energy and a barrowload of sarcasm, initially leveled at the other tourists, in a great scene which got us paying attention again.

From there on, the film moves in some unusual directions, and ends up not being the tired old vampire pic we’ve all seen a million times before. There’s time-travel involved – events occasionally flip back on themselves for a few seconds, which some reviewers have mistaken as bad continuity – and multiple dimensions. It might not make complete sense, and Lambert and Hoffman can’t quite pull off the fight scenes, but it is at least trying something different. One only wonders why the film didn’t go this, much more interesting, way right from the start; it certainly has better potential for development than the tedious first half actually produced.