Based in the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Olalla" tells the story of a gothic and decadent family of genetic vampires who need human blood to survive, and where incest is the only way to maintain the family line.
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The new and provocative film by Amy Hesketh, based in the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, tells the story of a gothic and decadent family of genetic vampires who need human blood to survive and prolong their lives, and where incest is the only way to maintain the family line. They don't mix with the outside world and when they do the consequences can be disastrous. The film centers in the avatars of Olalla, her daughters, Olalla and Ofelia and her brother Felipe. Both, Olalla the mother and Olalla the daughter, both interpreted by Amy Hesketh, are somewhat fractious, they can't control their impulses thus endangering the entire family. Hesketh starts her story where Stevenson's ends. A new guest arrives to the family's hacienda starting a struggle for the attentions of Olalla between the new comer and Felipe, the vampire's brother. Olalla sinks deeply in her madness and unable to control her tenebrous instincts, first attacks Roberto, the guest, and soon after the village's priest. ...Written by
A year before Robert Louis Stevenson would publish The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Scottish writer published, in 1885, the story of a wounded soldier that returns to Spain; where he meets a lovely young woman, daughter of his host, who conceals a great mystery. This tale is called Olalla.
Amy Hesketh adapted Stevenson's work, and she's brought it to the screen using two separate timelines: present day La Paz, and an estate at the end of the nineteenth century. From the start it is understood that Olalla, the lead character played by Hesketh herself, could be a vampire.
The opening dialog uses Murnau's Nosferatu as both a pretext and a mirrored view, with the knowledge that vampires have no reflection of their own. This uncovers the story's underlying horror, while also serving as an invitation to find the film's various cinematic references.
A story of monstrous creatures who have survived the passing of the years; a family that preserves their customs and manners of punishment up to the 21st century. The display of repression tinged with the naivete of an underlying romanticism, that borders on corny —typical of current vampire fiction — places in evidence the conflict of wanting to be a normal person and abandon one's own roots. Olalla is a freeform adaptation, brought to the present day, that uses collective memory as a device and finds in its situations a fertile ground on which to generate an environment of tension required by the staging.
Considering this is Hesketh's fourth film, a maturity in the work is clear, as well as attention to her craft. Olalla confirms an intention of reinterpreting a certain kind of literature and taking it to film, but it also shows a need to generate a self-referential work; where producer and director can quote themselves.
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