Ryan Swantek’s first short film, White Willow, shocked critics and audiences alike. His follow-up, Panther Ridge, reminded us that he’s a name to watch out for. More recently, Swantek has released a new short film, titled Báthory: Virgin Blood, that offers an intimate look at one of the most feared women in history.
Countess Elizabeth Báthory (aka “the Blood Countess”) was a Hungarian noblewoman who was accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young women between 1585 and 1609. Not only did she carry out brutal acts of torture on her victims, but she allegedly bathed in their blood to help maintain that ever-desirable youthful glow.
Starring newcomer Darryl Sposato as Elizabeth Báthory and Kaylee Giza as the Virgin Girl, Báthory: Virgin Blood shows the Countess in preparation before she completes her ritual.
Báthory’s outfit is perhaps a touch anachronistic (though the era is never specified — she has achieved everlasting life, after all), and her accent a tad inconsistent, but the short film’s strength is its elegant blood effects.
The sensuality is hypnotic as Báthory bathes in the blood of the innocent (courtesy of a practical throat-slit effect). Even when she’s dripping blood from her mouth, she has a regal air that’s as delicate as it is purposeful.
Sposato has a strong screen presence that Swantek and Director of Photography Tony Ahedo use to their full advantage. There’s a stillness that sifts through the final moments of the short that leaves a lasting effect.
It’s a simple premise for a short film, but the team really makes it work.
You can view the full just-over-5-minute short below.