The rare Romania-shot horror film that’s actually about (and starring) Romanians — albeit ones who speak locally accented English — “Strigoi” finds Dracula’s homeland again populated by vampires. Often drolly funny if a tad long-winded, Faye Jackson’s U.K.-funded second feature (following 2000’s little-seen “Resurrecting Bill”) is a witty and unpredictable upending of genre tropes. It’s unlikely to break out internationally a la “Let the Right One In” but should impress fans via home-format sales, with some niche offshore theatrical placement possible.
Prelude finds a rich couple executed by vigilante citizens for alleged vampirism. Many years later, Vlad (Catalin Paraschiv) returns to his grandparents’ village after an unhappy Italian sojourn on which his medical training was utterly wasted; he finds a post-Ceaucescu society of comic miserablism and ill-hidden supernatural belief. Tone remains wry even as the tale moves deeper into horror territory, with Vlad’s sanity coming into question as he seemingly becomes infected — if perhaps only by paranoid delusions. Pic also functions as a parabolic treatment of Romanian history, a dimension spelled out rather late. Perfs, pacing and packaging are expert, with particularly amusing use of preexisting music.