Christina Engela Reviews Eternity – “Worst Vampire Movie In History”
(And that’s really saying a lot!)
[This review originally appeared in 2010]
‘Eternity’ is a South African vampire movie – the first. If you were expecting something of the same caliber as last years’ “District 9”, forget it. It was appalling.
I wonder how I missed the release of this title, seeing as vampires are a firm favorite of mine, but I think this might be because this movie wasn’t released – it was unleashed. Or leaked accidentally, in the same vein as a toxic chemical spill – I’m still not sure which. In retrospect however, perhaps it was a social experiment working on the premise of “let’s see how many
suckers people will pay to watch this shit” based on a mediocre trailer and a flashy poster featuring supermodel Christina Storm.
There were scant trailer appearances on local TV channels in just the first few days of the release of this movie, before it was hurriedly hushed up as though it never existed. The trailer is still visible on Youtube, and is still better than the actual movie (don’t blame me if they’ve disappeared in the meantime – although I wouldn’t be surprised). The movie had good press, an okay trailer, a good poster and a few good names on the cast listing – but, disappointingly, it was all show and no go. Even the website advertising vanished within days afterwards, and the only place it was still advertised was on the website belonging to Train
Smash Bridge Films. I still wonder how much money they really lost on this unmitigated train smash box-office failure, if the producers still have shirts to wear, and if the actors ever fully recovered from the embarrassment.
On the night I went to see it, my companion and I suffered through nearly 45 minutes of commercials (much longer than the usual 20 or 30) even before the movie started, followed by nearly two hours in which this awful presentation lived up to it’s title. The movie made me long for the commercials. It seemed an “Eternity” of brutal torture in which I alternated between staring at the ceiling, rolling my eyes at every gaffe or blatant screw-up or half-witted attempt at delivering a line that often didn’t make any sense. I frequently looked at my companion for a sign – any sign – that he had given up and was ready to leave. I looked longingly at the exit. Surely even watching paint dry was more interesting?
Memories flooded back of the cinema staff we chatted to while standing in the cue waiting to go in, that “It’s not worth it, man – it’s really bad!”… and oddly enough, when we came out of the cinema after the show, the life-size card-board cutout display for Eternity had mysteriously vanished – and I got the impression of some marketing person making emergency phone calls to cinema’s around the country ordering them to take the posters and promotional material down and dispose of it all discreetly. I’m willing to bet it wasn’t taken by a fan, as many such displays eventually are – but more than likely by someone looking for something to try his new paintball gun (or flamethrower) on.
The story starts off without any music – and the male lead running around and doing some interesting acrobatics in the dark with another well-muscled character, across the rooftops of Johannesburg. Fun. Okay, so that’s new. I think. Innovative camera use scores a few points there. That’s probably the only nice thing I can say about the movie in toto. The sound of foot-pads, running, landing and other sound effects that should be echoing from all directions come across as disappointingly flat and betray this production as being done on the cheap. No bass, no multi-layer sound treatment, no bells, no whistles. No kiss-kiss, no bang-bang.
Anyway, so then the story cuts to some lab where a scientist is working on a new drug and is clearly experimenting on a captive who turns out to be a vampire. He escapes, is pursued by a couple of corny-sounding military types in full riot gear complete with gas masks. I’m still not sure why they were wearing those, but I couldn’t hear a word they said, and couldn’t help but notice that they can’t shoot worth a damn either. Somewhere there is probably an elephant laughing it’s trunk off at their marksmanship. The escapee reaches the roof and spontaneously combusts in the sunlight as we now expect fictional vampires to do, like the good little stereotype they are. We were left to assume the unknown vampire character escaped in order to commit suicide.
Cue the bad guys, meeting in secret, somewhere else, in near-darkness – always good when the audience can see almost nothing on the screen. In serious movies, professional movies, they deliver scenes scripted in actual darkness with slightly increased lighting so the viewer can actually see what the hell is going on, and they still manage to convey the impression that it’s meant to be dark. This didn’t happen in this case, and I probably wasn’t the only one in the theater squinting at an almost totally black screen half the time while listening to disjointed dialog.
So these fellas start discussing a fancy drug that can allow vampires to be immune to sunlight and walk the day (sound familiar?). Not much effort is made to explain to the audience who they are, and why they are meeting – and you don’t see them again anyway, because the same dudes in military gear from earlier pop up out of nowhere(probably sneaking up in the dark) and start shooting everybody on the set for no particular reason. Why?How do they connect with each other? Why do they want them dead? How did they get there? But it’s all cool, because after the way they dropped references to “clans”, “bloodlines” and other things found in LARPs and other (better) movies and TV series based on them, I wanted to shoot them myself!
The less said about how these actors delivered their lines the better, I think – but needless to say, as vampires, they suck – and not in a good way. In some movies, in good movies, the bad guys are people you love to hate, you watch their every move, you even admire them to a point. This movie just left me wanting to round them all up – supposed good guys included – and feed them garlic and holy water just to see what will happen!
There are more references to V:tM role-playing terminology throughout the movie, awful imitation Blade special effects, lousy continuity, shocking scripting, disjointed scenes, awful lines, long painful brooding lulls in the “action”, confusing “action” scenes where you only see the “good guys” racing through an abandoned building while dodging bullets, firing automatic weapons at the bad guys – who you don’t see at all till the very end of the scene. A lot of the time, I wondered why anything that was happening was happening. That, and also what was happening.
The main character is a quite good-looking vampire who could be described as the equivalent of Stefan Salvatore or Edward Cullen (pick one) – and probably that was the idea they were going for. He and his acrobatic “tag-buddy” meet this chick in a bar, and he buys her and her friend drinks (which they don’t accept – we presume because they are good little girls who don’t accept drinks from strangers). In the middle of the conversation, hero boy flaunts a metal hip-flask containing “something stronger” which he hints contains human blood. Ok, fine. He’s a vamp, so what’s new? But then he gets distracted by an old girlfriend he runs into, ditches her – and he and the new girl go to the dance floor – and he leaves the hip flask containing the blood lying on the bar! We never see him recover it. Nothing at all suspicious about that. Clever.
Aside from that, in retrospect, as a vampire, we never see him actually feed – and we don’t know where he gets his blood from. We never see if he actually has any fangs. He visits a mentor who lives in a ramshackle loft in what seems to be a deserted factory, and who spends a painfully long, depressing scene staring out the huge windows overlooking an industrial sector of Johannesburg philosophizing about the joys of being an immortal vampire cursed with – well, eternity. I can empathize.
In the next scene, the lead and this girl drive around a while in his fancy Edward Cullen look-alike car, and then he spends some time running around, “playing tag” with his vampire buddy “Jackie” again, performing some admittedly good stunts and acrobatics. Relevance? Point? Then he drops this girl at home in his fancy new Aston Martin, walks her to the door and gets all romantic before leaving. She goes inside and is promptly attacked by a bunch of feral-looking street vampires who demand to know where her father (the alleged scientist developing the cure – aha – eventually the penny drops) is, and they kill her mother to prove they are bad tempered, bad-ass and aren’t to be trifled with.
Normally I’d place an ad here in this space, to one of my own books – not this time though! I really don’t want any of my work associated with this massively disappointing disaster!
Right, so then hero boy comes in and kills a few of them, helping the damsel in distress to escape in the parent’s BMW. (Nothing annoys me more than helpless female stereotypes! In my experience a lot of “chicks” in Jozi will pull out a razor to cut any attackers, or just break a bar stool over them! Helpless? Really?) Where is his car? Right where he left it – in front of the house for the cops to find, of course! I’m sure the cops would *never* bother to trace the owner of a car left at a murder scene – or impound the vehicle, right?
At this point I’m already screaming inside. Surprisingly enough, the cops do run the plates on his car – and yet somehow that little detail is never followed up in the story again! However, the very next night, this dude is happily driving her around in his Aston Martin again! There is no follow-up on how he got it back, or any reference to the coppers tracing the license plate or impounding the vehicle etcetera! U-huh. Or does this guy have a spare identical second car handy? I doubt it. That jarring inconsistency almost had me lying down in the aisle, kicking and screaming! But wait, there’s more…
Since when do silver bullets get fired using silver casings? What???
Did the writer even have a clue about guns, bullets and forensics? What about the scriptwriter and producer – were they just as useless? Add to that, speaking of the glaring lack of attention to detail and lousy continuity – from one scene to the next this main character – let’s change his name to “Hair Boy” – appears first with goth make-up and eyeliner, and then without, and then with goth make-up again, and then without – from one scene to the next – all in the space of a few minutes! I’d expect that from some high school kids movie project shot in a garage – and then again, maybe not – I’ve seen better from the garistas.
The usual references were made to try and set the vampires apart from the mundane – heightened strength, super-speed (except when it really made any sense for the hero to actually use it) and a heightened sense of smell. That’s right. So when they’re not brooding like Stefan in Vampire Diaries, or arguing about embracing their nature like Bill Compton in True Blood, the characters are talking about the nuances of smelling fear, love, sorrow and so on. I have to say that, all the way through, I could smell something alright – and it was none of the above! It was round about here where I noticed my companion began softly and repeatedly banging the back of his head against his head rest…
The main villain was played by an experienced and probably respected local actor who I suppose tried his best with the sheer crap handed to him by the scriptwriter, probably still steaming on a stable boy’s shovel – but try as he might, he just couldn’t salvage it. This ship sank like a stone all the way to the bottom and stayed there, unlike similar material that usually bobs to the surface or, as the saying goes, floats. There is no point in breaking the rest of the so-called plot down here, it just sort of disintegrated on it’s own.
False advertising? Well no, it certainly felt like an “eternity”…
Despite the obvious local setting and SA props and characters (with strange foreign-sounding names) there was a complete absence of local culture, not one single word of Afrikaans, not one word of another indigenous language, not even heard in passing, or in the background. Aside from the story being set in Johannesburg and the rubbish accents which at times sounded part South African, and at other times like fake American and even British accents – (from the same actors!) there is nothing whatever to connect the story to a South African setting at all. Not a damned thing!
While inconsistency is probably the biggest flaw in this item, probably the absolute worst part about Eternity is the ending. After all that misery, you would at least hope for a good and satisfying ending. You know, the regular sort where the bad guy gets killed and the good guy gets the girl and they ride each other off towards the horizon – or turn into bats and flutter off into the sunset together. Nope.
At the end of this atrocious movie, everybody is dead. Everybody. E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y, including the bad guy, his minions, the scientist, the exploding suicidal vampire on the roof, the stormtroopers in the gas masks, the good guy’s vindictive ex girlfriend, and even his current love interest – the annoying little damsel in distress who came across as too timid to cross a busy Jozi street alone in rush-hour traffic to survive anyway. The only one left is Billy, who sits there all alone, eating his little vampire heart out. Shampies. Oh, and the coppers who appear as clueless at the end as they were at the start. This movie was so contrived and utterly pointless as to leave me feeling drained. Vampires? *Casts suspicious glance at the writers, director & producer of this catastrophe*
The story line and presentation of this movie was so fake and staged with all the cliché’s and “borrowed” plot devices it felt like a re-run of every cop and vampire TV show I could think of – only all scrambled together so as to not make an iota of sense! I felt like screaming! I wanted to leave, except I would have to wake my now seemingly dozing friend to do so! I felt, surrealistically, like I was living an episode of “Robot Chicken” for real, myself being the unfortunate cyborg fowl in question, strapped into my seat and forced to watch this heinous affront to the vampire genre, with my brain dribbling out through my ears!
Pictures really can be worth a thousand words.
I collect vamp flicks, y’know – and I said at the time that I wouldn’t bother to add this unmitigated crap to my collection – but had I not stumbled across a divx rip on a friend’s hard drive for gratis, I would have quite happily given it a skip. I wouldn’t say it is worth the effort for pirates to even bother ripping, counterfeiting and selling this junk on the streets of Johannesburg (they might even be risking their own lives in the process when people come back looking for them later, wanting their twenty bucks back). I’m not often driven to profanity in text – but in plain South African terms, this was sheer, utter, total kak!
“Eternity” was without exception the BIGGEST load of shit I’ve ever watched and paid money to watch, and I’ve seen some pretty memorable shit in my time! In my vampire movie and series collection I have many B-movies in black and white from the 1950’s and 1970’s that make more sense and are way more professionally made than this! I can’t believe this garbage made it to a national movie circuit in the 21st century – it’s like an amateur movie student’s project gone beserk – only I’m sure amateurs could do better with a production studio set up on a 486 in their parent’s garage! I think the director, editor, producer and scriptwriters for this crap deserve to be chained down with silver, and staked at sunrise! Come back, Twilight – all is forgiven! So what if those vamps sparkle and don’t have fangs? At least there’s some sense of purpose, story, consistency and pride in there! At least the story can be easily followed and makes some sort of sense!
As I left the theater complex, feeling bewildered and also somewhat relieved and frustrated all at once, my friend and I compared notes – and he pointed out, unhappily, that while I was waiting for him to give me a sign he wanted to quit and leave, he was waiting for the same from me! Oh, the unnecessary agony!
Bearing in mind that we had watched this movie shortly after the latest Twilight episode, we were both greatly disappointed – and not because Eternity turned out to be such a horrific train smash! We really wanted a local vamp movie to work, you see. It probably goes without saying, but I will say it again anyway: I really, really hated this movie!
Around the same time this movie came out, there was talk of another vampire move, this time in Afrikaans, called “Suiers” (which basically means “Suckers”) – and which STILL has not made an appearance, despite promises and one or two cheesy (yet more impressive than “Eternity”) previews showing up on YouTube at the time and on crowd-funding sites. We can only hope that “Suiers” doesn’t – well, suck for real.
Still, on the (somewhat incredibly small) positive side, Eternity WAS the first ever SA vampire movie. If someone in SA ever makes another one, I hope it will be better. Much, much better. I really, really hope so, otherwise Eternity will be a dreadful legacy for SA’s movie industry, as the first – and worst vampire movie ever made.
Final rating: 0 out of 5 stars on the Tinamometer. Putting a bullet in it would do the world a kindness. Scratch that – empty the whole clip!
To date, there have been no new vampire movies from South Africa since the unfortunate “Eternity” – and sadly, this abomination still remains the only South African vampire movie made so far. However, if the team from Train
Smash Bridge Films ever decide to go for gold (not really) and make a sequel, and “Suiers” still hasn’t come out by then, they could use the title for that. It certainly would apply to anyone unfortunate enough pay good money to watch it: Suckers.
Until next time – keep reading!