"I'm not good at self-reflection," a new patient tells Sigmund Freud in the Austrian horror comedy, Therapy for a Vampire. "I feel old and tired. I've seen everything. . . . I no longer have a thirst for life."
A stylish, painterly picture that evokes classic horror films from the 1930s, writer-director David Rühm's send-up of genre films is about a vampire who is facing an existential crisis.
Rühm has an ear for the absurd that reminds one of Monty Python. But his humor is as dry as they come - Therapy for a Vampire elicits ironic smiles, not belly laughs.
It's 1932, and Count Geza von Kozsnom (Tobias Moretti), a lean, handsome, tortured soul, is tired of his aimless existence.
The love of his life, Nadila, died eons ago ("dervishes beheaded her in Constantinople"), and he's sick of putting up with the incessant complaints of his wife of 500 years, Elsa (Jeanette Hain). A sexy, monstrously narcissistic, black leather-clad mass murderer, Elsa is obsessed by her inability to see her own reflection.
What would any self-respecting, angst- and ennui-ridden denizen of Vienna do in the count's position? Make an appointment with Freud, of course.
Rühm's clever script plays on the misunderstandings that arise when Freud interprets the count's literal descriptions as symbolic ones.
When the count says, "even food bores and wearies me," he's saying that he's no longer excited by the prospect of chasing down, terrifying, and savagely slicing up men and women for his dinner.
Things take a dramatic turn when the count meets steak-house waitress Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan), who is a dead ringer for Nadila.
Therapy for a Vampire doesn't have the comedic muscle of 2014's brilliant New Zealand import What We Do in the Shadows, which is hands down the best vampire satire in decades. Yet its premise and stunning photography help make it a compelling entry in the genre.
Therapy for a Vampire
2 1/2 stars (Out of four stars).
Directed by David Rühm. With Tobias Moretti, Jeanette Hain, Dominic Oley, Cornelia Ivancan, Karl Fischer. Distributed by Music Box Films. In German with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 mins.
Parent's guide: Not rated (nudity, sexuality, violence).
Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse.