Silent films require a certain amount of patience but I have mostly found them to be rewarding. Works such as the mesmerizing Nosferatu (1922) and the German Expressionistic masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) are must-sees for any fans of horror to see where it all began. So I was pretty excited to finally sit down and watch Genuine: The Tragedy of a Vampire since it was directed by Robert Wiene who also did Caligari. This review is of the 43 minute condensed version which, I believe is the only one that can be seen these days. The original cut of the film lasts 1 hour and 28 minutes so A LOT has been removed from this film. I'm curious regarding what has been eliminated because that's ridiculously severe in my book.
First of all you need to know that Genuine is not a vampire movie in the traditional sense. So if you're looking for blood-sucking and bats, you will be highly disappointed. Genuine is the "vampire" in question and it's more a surreal story of a priestess from some kind of unnamed cult who has power over others. That's it!
What Genuine has going for it is it's sets and costumes which are very dream-like and inventive. Genuine's outfits in particular are really fantastic. The sets also sports that German Expressionism look of Caligari, although it's not executed quite as masterfully. Yet, there is plenty of eye candy to keep the viewer interested.
The cast does a good job of bringing these characters to life and communicate quite a bit through their body postures and gestures. The intertitles that have been done in English are also a necessity if one is to understand what it happening in this film.
Genuine's weakness lies in the fact the story is not nearly as compelling as Caligari. I would consider it to be more of a thriller than a true horror movie, but that's just my opinion. That being said, there is much to enjoy about Genuine if you know what you're getting into. I appreciate the artistry and imagination that went into this film. I value directors such as Wiene whose work became the building blocks for all the 1930's classics we know and love.
This film can be found on YouTube as well as archive.org.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.