ROSE: A LOVE STORY (2020)
Directed by Jennifer Sheridan.
Written by Matt Stokoe.
Starring Sophie Rundle, Matt Stokoe, Olive Gray
Rose (played by the very Hermione-looking Sophie Rundle) is sick and her husband Sam (Matt Stokoe) wants to keep her comfortable and safe in their secluded cabin in the forest. While it is not clearly stated, Rose shows all signs of being a vampire as she can’t take bright light and turns into a drooling monster at the sight of blood. When a stranger named Amber (Olive Gray) shows up to their home, it threatens the fragile life they have built for themselves.
There is a lot to like about this tender and tragic little vampire story. Rundle and Stokoe are actually a couple in real life and its apparent as there really is some great charisma between these two. I really liked some of the quiet scenes where they deal with the way each feel like they are a burden to one another. These intimate moments are the foundation of the film and it’s a strong one. It is subtitled as a love story, after all.
The effects are subtle, but work. Rose’s eyes go white and she gets veiny and all hissy. This being a very small and intimate film, the effects match the scope of it all. The action is downplayed as well. There are a few moments of great tension as I found myself invested in this couple and these sequences where Rose’s monstrosity endangers that. The problem is that I think too much time is spent highlighting this relationship and the dilemma this couple endures. A few dangers to this fragile ecosystem the couple has set up arise, but the real threat doesn’t really appear until well after the hour mark. It reminds me of the structure of a much better vampire film, MY HEART DOESN’T BEAT UNLESS YOU TELL IT TO, but in that film, I felt there was more story to tell than here in ROSE. With ROSE, it feels the interest was in illustrating the relationship and the lengths Sam will go to protect his love and the conflict comes in much, much later.
The ending is powerful indeed, but there’s an awful long wait for action for those who are looking for a little scares and blood in their vampire movie. Like many recent films, it really feels like the film ends right when the action was about to start. I get it. This is a low budgeter. But still, films made with much less have been able to tell a fuller tale. ROSE is well acted and has a real likability to it, but it left me unsatisfied from a storytelling level, specifically with the long lead-up to a very short conclusion with no hint at how the story really ends.