Thomas Berg's Vidar the Vampire is definitely a passion project. Not only does Berg star as the titular Vidar, he's also the co-writer and co-director alongside Fredrik Waldeland, performed the music heard in the film, and - just to cap it off - was also in charge of casting. Unsurprisingly, the film is fairly low-budget, but it works an early '90s independent film vibe, utilising lots of public and rural locations to get the most bang for the buck.
As a vampire film, it definitely falls in line with many of the works which have come before it. Vidar is telling his story to a psychologist (Kim Sønderholm), which evokes Interview with a Vampire's frame tale. The comedic elements call to mind What We Do in the Shadows' awkward bloodsuckers, right down the epic mustache of Jemaine Clement's Vladislav. Even the fact that the viewer isn't quite sure at first if Vidar is actually a vampire or just mad looks back to George A. Romero’s Martin.
Of course, it becomes readily apparent that Vidar is a vampire, and the prayer he made to Jesus “to grant him a life without boundaries” has an unexpected consequence, not the least of which is being shot in the chest with a shotgun by his mother.
Berg and Waldeland's film successfully combines all of the aspects of what came before, while definitely leaning into being a gorier, raunchier dark comedy. However, that raunchy aspect can really take the fun out of Vidar the Vampire. Whereas the repeated scenes of Vidar dying and being resurrected by a vampire Jesus generate inappropriate laughter like a late-night viewing of Man Bites Dog, the aspects with women - whose character names include ‘Whore of Babylon’, ‘Second Whore of Babylon’, and most lamentably, ‘Drunk Cunt’ - don't fare so well.
The way Vidar drinks blood is not from the neck, but definitely below the belt. It's a joke that aims squarely at a secondary school sense of humor. While Berg's film comes in at a lean 82 minutes, one gets the feeling it might've worked best as a short. There's a lot of padding, and the scenes of the vampire wandering the streets, looking sad, begin to drag after the fifth iteration.
Once the film removes Vidar from his small, rural Christian village and moves him to the big Norwegian city, it turns from the oddball in a group of oddballs and becomes just another fish out of water story. Seeing Vidar spend more time among his original community, and trying to exist in a place where he was comfortable, if not exceptional, might've led to a more effective sense of him going ham amongst the bright lights and crowded streets of the city.
VIDAR THE VAMPIRE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTORS & SCREENPLAY: THOMAS ASKE BERG, FREDRIK WALDELAND / STARRING: THOMAS ASKE BERG, BRIGT SKRETTINGLAND, KIM SØNDERHOLM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US), TBC (UK)