What It TakesBy DJ Remark Short Film Review

An atmospheric vampire story disguised as a job interview lies at the center of this short film directed by DJ Remark and written by Jason Orr.

As a man steps out of a car near a suburban house under the cold moonlight, he is soon greeted by a female assistant in dark clothes and pale skin. She leads the man inside the empty house.. And after a spoken preamble regarding the rules for the following interview, the man enters  into a dark room with only the eerily-beautiful moonlight seeping in, silhouetting a table and two chairs.

“What It Takes” is both incredibly refreshing and intriguing. The conversation between the main character, Vic (played by Vincent Sarowatz) and the Vampire (played by Angelia Green) is a stripped-down, yet moody piece of dialogue, almost feeling like a one-act theater play. With a carefully-lit and craftily blocked second and third act. Both the cinematography and the cutting enhance each shot and it feels precise, and the narrative beats flow well between the branching points of the conversation that also poses as job interview. Things do get bloody at a certain point, as they tend to, when we are talking about the creatures of the night and the music they make.

The vampire genre in films has such a long story of both adaptation and new variations of a similar archetype of this dark monster needing both blood and company. Whether it is through the lens of the Victorian era like Universal’s Dracula from the 1930s. To the more modern takes on the genre regarding loneliness and alienation that range from “The Lost Boys” to “Only Lovers Left Alive”. Vampire stories can truly be eternal because of how they adapt in both scope and context to the times they are written or created in. They can reflect both the artists behind them as well as the existential concerns of the day or rather night. They are flexible and ever-renewing, when done right.

“What It Takes” does a great many things right! It’s easy to see how much of a labor of love this film is. They clearly have fondness for the vampire genre and it shows in the care of each shot and the way the tone is maintained throughout most of the film all the way to its conclusion. There are many lovely flashes to other familiar stories, from the Renfield character in Bram Stoker’s immortal classic to the ever-reaching influence of roleplaying games like Vampire The Masquerade’s many editions and iterations. And yet it is the queen of vampire literature, Anne Rice who most came to mind as the dialogue progressed and the seductiveness and sensuality gave way to a more monstrous side regarding mankind and the vampire kin.

The film utilizes a reworked, familiar tradition of giving prominence to the suburban protagonist while it being juxtaposed with the vampire as a hunting and ruling class undertone. We follow with our protagonist as he becomes angry, to boot, regarding his emasculated existence and his true motives for applying to this special kind of job interview. He truly feels his hardships are second to none and he is truly deserving of this dark gift that the Vampire Lady holds for him. It brings to mind some of the same interesting observations in regards  at Rice herself regarding the treatment of vampires from a more distant and privileged angle regarding the choice of protagonist and the amorality it entails. The writing and pacing of the story allows this dynamic to work in a very compelling way.

In conclusion, “What It Takes” make its beautiful mark by sheer craft and atmosphere. The conversation that is the main course of the film is held tight by both editing and directing, and the actors deliver their lines with sustained emotion and glee, allowing for some semblance of relatability. So that when all is said and done, it is more than a welcome addition to the gallery of vampire stories that have been a part of our unconscious collective since the early days of storytelling.

“What It Takes” manages to both enthrall us and celebrate, darkly, the aesthetic and thematic pleasures of vampires. And that’s always a welcome note in the music the children of the night doth make.

We very much look forward to seeing where DJ Remark goes next!


We had the pleasure of interviewing filmmaker DJ Remark.Click the button below to go read that interview now!