Directed by Harry Kümel by and starring Delphine Seyrig, Daughters of Darkness follows newlywed couple Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) and Stefan (John Karlen) on their way to visit Stefan’s mother. The couple stops at a hotel in Ostend where they meet the mysterious and beautiful Elizabeth Bathory (Seyrig) and her secretary Ilona (Andrea Rau). Elizabeth takes an interest in Valerie and seeks to get her away from Stefan, meanwhile, bodies drained of their blood keep turning up in the nearby town.
I loved the simplicity of the movie. The action takes place at a beach town in winter, so it’s deserted, meaning very few extra characters. I loved the isolated feel the hotel has (it reminds me very much of The Shining). And of course, we have the riff on the legend of the very real Countess Elizabeth Bathory who was thought to be a witch or a vampire or just a serial killer who apparently bathed in the blood of young girls. Seyrig is perfect in her role, she has that air about her that she has been around for a long time but is incredibly beautiful; she’s pretty much how I would imagine Elizabeth Bathory to be.
Other than those things, I didn’t like much else about the movie. I’m typically a fan of a slow-burn horror movie (which this movie is). However, the move doesn’t really build up to anything that exciting; I felt that it just fizzled out. Part of why I thought this movie was so boring was the lack of information given on Elizabeth, I feel like the filmmakers were operating under the idea that the audience would already know all about Bathory and not need any more information.
I, on the other hand, wanted to know what exactly Ilona was, was she just like the Countess or was she just a slave? She seemed like she maybe drank blood, as well, and Valerie drinks blood by the end of the movie, as well. I don’t know. By the time they show Elizabeth drinking blood, I was long past bored. This felt more like a sapphic novel at some points, I feel like the most attention was on the fact that Elizabeth was attracted to Valerie.
On top of that, I feel like there are characters that never have their storylines resolved and it just feels like there are so many loose ends left by the end of the movie. First, we have the concierge who remembers Elizabeth being at the hotel 40 years prior, and yet she hasn’t aged. You would think Elizabeth would kill him because he kept running his mouth about it whenever he got the chance. We also have the retired detective who is clearly suspicious of Elizabeth, again, we never see what become of him. Another loose end not tied up.
And then we have that ending. So, at the end of everything, Elizabeth is killed, but Valerie survives, and I guess she was turned into a vampire, but when she speaks to her future victims, she has Elizabeth’s voice. So, Valerie is possessed? Is that all the Countess is, a spirit that possesses women and turns them into vampires? I just don’t get it.
Should the Movie Be in the 101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die Book?
Personally, I don’t understand why this one is in here. If they wanted to include a lesbian vampire horror movie, there are some better ones that, at least in my opinion, should have been included instead. From what I understand from reading the movie’s entry in the book, it’s regarded as the classiest of the lesbian vampire films and the artsiest. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
You can rent the movie below if you want to decide for yourself (the link is an Affiliate link and helps out the channel):