Be­ing a vam­pire is so drain­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jay Stone

CAN a mo­rose teenage vam­pire with a yearn­ing for friends — and an ag­gres­sively in­die sound­track to dif­fer­en­ti­ate him from other such teenage vam­pires — find hap­pi­ness with the girl next door, even if she is the town slut?

That’s the co­nun­drum in Ru­fus, a Cana­dian ver­sion (i.e., the boy’s trans­for­ma­tion into vam­pire kind of sucks, if you’ll par­don the ex­pres­sion) of an old story. Ru­fus cer­tainly won’t gen­er­ate the sex­ual heat, or the box-of­fice glory, of the Twi­light fran­chise, but it’s not meant to.

This is a com­bi­na­tion com­ing-ofage story, ro­mance and anal­y­sis of small-town cul­ture: three movies in one, for one low ad­mis­sion price. Ru­fus also cuts costs by hav­ing the vam­pire be­come some­thing of a were­wolf, too — he grows claws and growls — which saves one en­tire salary.

As for the plot, well, it was prob­a­bly just a mat­ter of time be­fore the vam­pire le­gend ran up against an ex­posé of Big Pharma, and it took a lit­tle Saskatchewan film to do it.

It starts when Ru­fus (Bri­tish new­comer Rory J. Saper) ar­rives in tiny Con­rad, (ac­tu­ally Dun­burn, Sask.) on the run from some­thing. He’s a mo­rose kid with hair that flops fetch­ingly over one eye, and he is adopted by the lo­cal cop Hugh (David James El­liott) and his wife Jen (Kelly Rowan), who have mo­rose is­sues of their own — a dead son who, if I’m not mis­taken, would be around Ru­fus’s age now — adding to the gen­eral malaise.

It’s hardly lifted by Tracy (Mer­ritt Pat­ter­son), the girl next door who spots the new kid in town and has him in her house and naked be­fore you can say Parental Guid­ance.

Vam­pires, which bat­tle zom­bies as the go-to metaphor for our age of global col­lapse, have their sym­bolic work cut out for them, and Ru­fus has an es­pe­cially heavy load to carry.

Star­ring Rory J. Saper and David James El­liott Globe Not yet rated 110 min­utes

½ out of five Hes­i­tant, lonely, un­let­tered, lost and sad­dled with non-stan­dard pow­ers — he doesn’t burst into flames in the sun — Ru­fus must also fill sev­eral roles in Con­rad.

He’s a miss­ing son, a fill-in lover, an ob­ject of de­sire to all who meet him (straight guys ap­par­ently turn gay at the very sight of him), and pro­tec­tor of women’s virtue, even though his claws are kind of dopey and his growl­ing at­tacks on peo­ple’s necks have all the men­ace of some­one pour­ing ketchup onto his plate, which also hap­pens, come to think of it.

Writer/di­rec­tor Dave Schultz stretches out this some­what lan­guorous — not to say som­nam­bu­lant — ma­te­rial to al­most two hours by adding a vil­lain.

He’s Van Dusen ( Sons of An­ar­chy’s Kim Coates in a creep­ily men­ac­ing per­for­mance), who is seek­ing Ru­fus for rea­sons of cor­po­rate malfea­sance that com­pli­cate the film but add a im­por­tant con­tem­po­rary is­sue: how far can a drug com­pany go to cre­ate a world with no sick­ness?

The ques­tion of how this would af­fect its bot­tom line is not ad­dressed, but this is just a teenage vam­pire movie, af­ter all.

Mean­while, the bod­ies pile up as Ru­fus me­an­ders some­what aim­lessly through his life, try­ing mis­er­ably to “fit in” and fend­ing off sex­ual ad­vances at ev­ery turn, while show­ing his prow­ess at base­ball, of all things. It doesn’t seem to fit with Saper’s English ac­cent.

As for the girl next door stuff, there’s the ex­pected trou­ble but love con­quers all, even in the sex­u­ally am­bigu­ous precincts de­picted in Ru­fus. Him: “I haven’t slept with half the town.” Her: “No, but given the chance, you’d prob­a­bly eat them.” Or gloom them to death.

EONE FILMS

As if vam­pirism weren’t bad enough, now Ru­fus (Rory Saper) has to take the bus.

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