It's nice to see a low budget film, particularly a low budget horror film, that doesn't look cheap, that somehow takes the little it has available, and still manages to look slick and well crafted. Temptation a/k/a Black Tower Temptation is just such a film, and though it stumbles in a few spots, it has a fair amount going for it as well.
Isabel, played by Caroline Haines, is a typical middle class young woman from London. She's beautiful, smart, lives with her mother and sister and likes to spend a lot of time out drinking and having fun with her girlfriends and boyfriend Simon (Alexander D'Andrea). But then Isabel sees Simon kissing another girl, gets angry and a little too drunk, and accepts a ride home from the wrong cab driver. This fellow takes her to a back alley, and brutally rapes her. The fact that he is in turn killed by femme fatale vampire Aurelie (Rachel Waters), who also saves Isabel's life by turning her into a vampire, is small comfort.
Things don't exactly get better from there. Isabel begins to sense strange cravings, the inability to eat normal food and an aversion to sunlight. She doesn't want to go to the police about the rape, but they show up anyway when they find her cell phone in the dead guy's cab, and they start to suspect that she killed him when she lies about knowing him. Meanwhile, Aurelie, who holds court at the eponymous burlesque club Temptation, from which she and her minions find unwitting prey for their bloodlust, is convinced that Isabel is the reincarnation of her long lost love Margo. She will stop at nothing in her romantic pursuit of Isabel, to the great detriment of Isabel's family and friends. The bodies begin to stack up, as Isabel's life spirals down.
As stated above, Temptation is a nice looking film, particularly considering its low budget. The image is clear, the colors smooth and warm, and the locations have a solid, concrete feel. The camera work is competent and inventive. There are only a few passing moments of slightly silly effects, and these can easily be overlooked. Where the film takes the occasional misstep is elsewhere. The performances are all good, in particular Caroline Haines as Isabel. The wounded, confused, desperate young woman shines brightly through, with nary a false note. The supporting cast are also spot on, with the possible exception of the French gendarme that Aurelie keeps chained up in the basement. He looks too goofy for the Goth-noir feel the producers are going for. Also, at times the performers can't help but drift into to melodrama, especially when they are in full vamp mode, teeth out and dripping blood. Performances that should have been reeled in were allowed to go a bit too far over the top. And who can blame them? It's easy to do while wearing a leather corset and knee high boots. There is also a bit of clumsy exposition, Aurelie flatly narrating to another character who should already know her history with the lost Margo, and at times the story seems to lack sufficient focus. Despite all of this, Temptation is a welcome relief from much of the low budget dreck that passes for horror films, and especially vampire films, these days. Director Catherine Taylor, cinematographer Carolina Costa and all the rest of the cast and crew down the line know their jobs and do them well. A more compelling narrative conflict would have given it a significantly bigger impact, and as a result the audience fails to get invested in the goings on.
Temptation isn't a perfect film, but it's decent. The perhaps too brutal rape scene, and various folks in many states of undress throughout the film make it unsuitable for children, but there is a lot to enjoy for adults, and also much that is frustrating. Rent this one.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks good with a few defects. There is mild aliasing throughout the film, and the occasional lens dirt. Other than this, the HD video is crisp and clear, with vibrant colors and good contrast.
The sound is available in both Dolby digital 5.1 channel and 2 channel. The 5.1 channel track is very nice, highlighting the films inventive and enjoyable score. The sound envelopes the space, and is quite robust. Dialogue is always clearly audible, though no subtitles or alternate language tracks are available.
There are a few extras included on the disc. They are:
Cast and Crew Interviews
Most of the major cast is interviewed, along with cinematographer Carolina Costa, director Catherine Taylor and various sound and tech folks. They seem to be asked mostly the same questions, and talk about the challenges of night shoots, low budgets, and working on a female dominated set. This is pretty interesting.
This is just over a minute of promotional photos from the film, highlighting the main characters.
Vicious Circle Films Presents
Trailers are included for Easter Bunny Kill Kill, Someone's Knocking at the Door, Sympathy and Run, Bitch, Run.
Temptation is a slickly produced, good looking film that transcends its low budget. It has solid performances, cool attitude and sexy atmosphere but the less than compelling story, narrative stumbles and tendency toward melodrama allow it to be only a tolerably good time. Not perfect, but fun. Rent this one.