Founded in February 2012, Artsploitation Films has quickly made a name for itself as a preferred distributor of top notch international genre films and other challenging cinematic fare - take, for example, writer/director Ivan Noel's Children of the Night, a rather delightful indie horror flick about a colony of child vampires largely unnoticed by the outside world until their caretaker, Erda (Ana Maria Giunta), invites Alicia (Sabrina Ramos), a journalist from the city into their secluded orphanage in an effort to bring attention to these children and their "skin disease."
That skin disease, of course, is actually vampirism and this orphanage is no ordinary orphanage. Limbo, the name of the orphanage and the original name of the film, is an unusual orphanage outside Buenos Aires that seems to be housing many of those kids whose faces you've seen on those "Missing Children" posters and who are now raised partly as children and partly as the dangerous vampires they could be if that potential is released.
Accurately described on the Artsploitation Blu-ray cover as Let the Right One In meets Twilight, though also a wonderfully unique beast all its own, Children of the Night is a dark yet fairly comical film given a quality release by Artsploitation with packaging that includes a director's commentary, audio commentary, "making of" featurette, and trailer. I found myself most appreciative of the film's director's commentary as Children of the Night is the kind of film you find yourself finishing and wanting to know so much more about the artist who created it.
The children live, for the most part, a peaceful existence even with the looming threat of a black-clad group of adult vampires who linger on the edge of the property and seem to constantly threaten the children's existence. As their protector, Erda, is fierce yet possesses a sort of brutish maternal quality that makes you realize she is perfectly suited to her most difficult task.
Children of the Night is a flawed film, though it's a film that should be embraced by international genre fans with a devotion to an atmosphere that sort of weaves together an old Spanish soap opera with a gothic sensibility befitting of old school horror meeting contemporary special effects. The film runs just a tad long, noticeably so, yet I wasn't particularly bothered by its excessiveness.
The film benefits from the presence of the late Ana Maria Giunta, an Argentenian actress who was actually using a walker by the time she shot this film and yet whose performance is strong enough that you instantly want to go look up her IMDB credits and watch her other works.
The story itself is more concerned about the world created than cohesive plot, less devoted to Alicia's profession than it is to the world in which Alicia enters. It's an understandable concern, of course, but those who seek beginning to end cohesion may be a bit distracted.
Children of the Night is yet the latest Artsploitation release that I have completely and utterly loved, a difficult to market yet easy to embrace title that may, in fact, be better with its flaws than if it were a slick, perfect production. There's something oddly endearing about the overly long, occasionally technologically impaired work of wonder that unfolds in Children of the Night and it's very likely the kind of film you'd much rather own than simply rent.
For more information on Children of the Night, visit the Artsploitation website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic