On face value, So Vam starts off as a tough watch due to its low budget restraints, but beneath its paltry appearance, there is an important and integral theme at play here.
At its core, the film is a stark and honest depiction of being ostracised by society as told from the LGTBTQ+ community. The tale is all the more stronger as its author and visionary is trans filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay, who adds her own personal touch to finding her own community in an almost unforgiving world. Her directorial debut feature heralds a maturity that belies her age at 17 years, but her voice and position allows the truth of her experiences to shine through.
The scene is set in an Australian town where young gay guy, Kurt (Xai) feels he is constantly an outsider and often the victim of those who ridcule him for his identity. Kurt hangs onto the dream of one day becoming a drag queen, where he can showcase his talents on the stage and live in the big city. What he doesn’t expect is to find his tribe among the vampire kind.
When he is one day stalked and killed by a bloodsucker, only to be brought back to life by a gang of rebellious vampires, hell bent on ridding the old world of bigotry and pain. It is here that he finds a kinship and with it a new found confidence. In finding his way though, he must equally find how his vampire ways must blend with his family and friendship ties. Can these two worlds exist or must he part ways with one over the other?
Director Mackay paints a perfect metaphor for transitions and change for a community trapped by their identity through the tale of vampire mythology. Despite its limitations, there is measure to be had here and a narrative that has been crafted with a learned voice. One that pays dividends to sit up and listen to, marking an exciting entry into the LGTBTQ+. With another film released this year (Bad Girl Boogey) Mackay clearly has plenty more stories to tell. It will certainly be interesting to see how she harnesses her craft further.
- Saul Muerte