Charlotte (Alyssa Milano) is a former Catholic schoolgirl, out in the real world for the first time at college. She's got an understanding boyfriend, Chris (Harold Pruett), who doesn't put any pressure on her to duck under the covers for the first time. Things are going fine until she is plagued by visions of a centuries-old vampire (Martin Kemp), who tries to entice her away from Chris and the mortal world and into eternal sleep with him. She bears a resemblance to the princess he was in love with when he was bitten, and he begins to manipulate her through her dreams in the hopes she'll dismiss her feelings for Chris and give herself over to him before his time on Earth is up in 72 hours.
The single most frustrating part of Embrace of the Vampire is that not a damn thing happens in it. The script fails to clearly establish the way in which the vampire plans on luring Charlotte, leaving the viewer with zero sense of why he's not succeeding, what his abilities are, or what exactly is meant to happen if he succeeds or fails. At one point, he's about to bite into Charlotte's jugular only for the bells on a clock tower to ring, sending him back off into the night. Is there a window of opportunity? Did the ringing somehow break a trance he had her in? Why, if he can simply materialize near her and go to town, does he revert to more psychological tricks on subsequent evenings? There are no answers for any of these questions, nor does the movie appear to think the viewer should care.
Instead, Goursaud focuses attention on obnoxious mean girl drama between Charlotte and Eliza (Jordan Ladd), an especially great example of a useless antagonist without any actual character or purpose in the film beyond working against whatever the protagonist wants. Every time Eliza shows up, it's a painful reminder of how pointlessly aggravating her character is. The film would be better off spending more time developing Charlotte, so that the endless scenes in which she dithers between the vampire and her noble boyfriend actually have some sort of emotional foothold. The same goes for an entirely baffling thread involving a photographer named Sarah (Charlotte Lewis), who becomes more than a background player out of nowhere halfway through the movie, nearly initiates a lesbian sex scene without any developments on Charlotte's part that suggest she'd allow it to happen, then promptly returns to being a nobody.
Honestly, the only reason anyone remembers Embrace of the Vampire nearly 20 years after its release is undoubtedly the numerous softcore sex scenes, which build in cheesy romance novel ludicrousness from a forest lovemaking session (complete with an arrival on horseback and heaving corsets) to two orgy scenes full of arterial spray. For a film that was made by women, the movie seems absolutely primed to play to an audience of teenage boys, favoring skin over story at every turn. A glance at the IMDb page for the new remake suggests it's not much better than this one. It's not just too bad (something about the premise calls out to be done with a little skill), but kind of jaw-dropping: this is already trash cinema at its most bloodless.
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