Vlad investigates a mysterious death in his grandfather’s village that raises questions about land ownership in the community. The trial points to ex-communist bully Constantin Tirescu and his wife, but when Vlad confronts them, he discovers that the richest landowners in the village have become real bloodsuckers.
Staff member, Christine Caprilozzi, caught up with writer/director, Faye Jackson, to talk about Strigoi.
Horror News Network: The concept for the movie Strigoi was based on Romanian myth. What drew you to this?
Faye Jackson: My husband is Romanian and Iâ€™ve spent a lot of time there over the past ten years. Romanians treat the whole â€œDraculaâ€ story as a bit of a joke (Vlad Tepes is a Romanian hero) and I became interested in the folklore version of vampires that Romanians actually believed in.
Horror News Network: There a few differences between strigoi and what most people see as vampires. What are the major ones?
Faye Jackson: For me the biggest difference is that â€œDraculaâ€ inspired vampires are romantic outsiders, whereas strigoi are a poison at the very heart of a community. But there are also quite a few differences in â€œthe rulesâ€. For example, a person can become strigoi if they meet a violent death, but they can also be born strigoi (sort of like a witch). And to kill a strigoi, you have to dig up their body, cut out their heart and burn it.
Horror News Network: Strigoi, to me, was one of the more intelligent vampire movies to come out in a while. Given that, what is your opinion of the some of the current, more mainstream, watered -down vampire movies?
Faye Jackson: Thank you! The vampire movies and tv shows that tend to get the biggest critical mauling are the ones pitched at teenage girls. Iâ€™m really not the target audience for these and I donâ€™t begrudge teenage girls handsome teenage vampires to swoon over.
I also think that the majority of vampire movies have always been trashy. And very few of the good ones have ever been mainstream movies. Most of the big vampire movies and franchises are based on very successful books or comic book characters. Or theyâ€™re remakes. So theyâ€™re usually very safe. But that goes for mainstream cinema in general right now.
Horror News Network: There was quite a bit of Romanian history, and some political statements interwoven in the main vampire story. Was that intentional? What was the inspiration for spotlighting that?
Faye Jackson: The original concept for Strigoi was â€œthe Romanian revolution set in a small village, except this time the Ceaucescus come back as vampiresâ€™, so, yes, itâ€™s always had political and historical elements. The story changed over time and became less allegorical, but for me, Strigoi was always going to be about family and history and corruption.
Horror News Network: As far as casting, the characters were very real and believable. With Vlad, played brilliantly by Catalin Paraschiv, how much of role did you play in casting him?
Faye Jackson: I worked with a couple of casting directors in Romania. It was a tall order: we had to find really good actors who spoke English and also happened to be perfect for the roles. I also made a point of asking all the Romanians who read the script if Vlad made them think of anyone and Catalinâ€™s name came up. And, of course, when I met him, he was perfect.
Horror News Network: Vlad’s character development, and journey from failed med student to the one who saves the village is one not only of learning the truth about the people around him, but also self discovery. What are your thoughts on his character’s development?
Faye Jackson: Vlad is a smart guy at a low point. Every one around him seems very sure of who he is (they think he failed as a doctor because heâ€™s weak), but he has a strength of character that makes him resistant to the easy answers and solutions that corrupt the others. “Killing” strigoi doesn’t really solve anything, so I needed an atypical hero.
Horror News Network: The way the movie was shoot, was pretty gritty and very “real.” (Location, camera angles, etc). What was the shoot like?
Faye Jackson: We shot on location in a village in the north of Romania and then in a studio outside Bucharest. The location shoot was by far the most enjoyable part, the village we shot in is incredibly atmospheric and it was great for the actors to mingle with the real villagers. The studio part ended up being all night shoots, and I think by the end we all felt like strigoi.
Horror News Network: Strigoi is not what people expect in a vampire film, but does have its moments of gore and suspense. You’ve sprinkled a bit of humor in there too. Are you a fan of horror movies in general?
Faye Jackson: There are lots of horror movies I love, but I’m not a hardcore horror fan. Is “genre fan” a thing? That would probably be a better handle for me.
Horror News Network: What projects are up next for you? Any more “horror” films in the making?
Faye Jackson: The two features Iâ€™m working on right now are: a sci-fi thriller set in London about a marketing company that uses CCTV to read peopleâ€™s minds and a Scheherazade-style collection of modern fairy tales, also set in London. Both have horror elements, but neither are straight horror films.
Horror News Network: Thank you for your time, Faye. Comment on this interview here.