The Immortal Augustus Gladstone: Film Review

This arch portrait of a man who claims to be a 150-year-old vampire never catches fire.

A mockumentary about a man claiming to be a 150-year-old vampire is a new effort by Robyn Miller, the creator of the hit video game, Myst.

By now there have been so many mockumentaries that this mini-genre must be held to higher critical standards than we might have applied in the days before This Is Spinal Tap

The latest example, The Immortal Augustus Gladstone, has its amusing moments but doesn’t come anywhere near the giddy heights of the Christopher Guest oeuvre. This VOD release may build a small cult following but won't make many waves.

The movie was created by Robyn Miller, the man behind the phenomenally successful video game, Myst. He felt an understandable desire to branch out, but he doesn't prove as adept in his new career path. 

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The film follows a camera crew interviewing one Augustus Gladstone, who claims to be a benign vampire celebrating his 150th birthday. Augustus recalls his childhood during the post-Civil War era, his visit to the Paris exposition of 1900, and his days spent as part of the Andy Warhol Factory crowd. The crew seems skeptical of his tales, and a doctor says that although Augustus does seem older than appearances suggest, he probably needs psychiatric help for his delusions.

As a piece of editing, the film is sometimes clever, interweaving grainy old newsreel footage and even scenes from the Bela Lugosi Dracula. But most of the jokes fall flat, and if the film is intended as a portrait of someone trapped in a delusion, that's an old story more skillfully rendered by many other filmmakers. Augustus seems to have gay inclinations, but this is left murky, and it’s never clear what financial resources he has accrued that enable him to survive.

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Miller himself plays the pale, bald Augustus, and he scores an impressive physical transformation. Several of the film's crew members, including producer Mischa Jakupcak and cinematographer Matt Daniels, play themselves and appear appropriately befuddled. There's one genuinely funny bit when Augustus corners a black man and tells the bewildered fellow that they are blood relatives, but otherwise the film contains a series of strained whimsical bits that never take off.  

Miller himself did the editing and has fallen in love with too much of his own footage. Maybe the film would have worked better as a short, but there’s not enough originality or artistry to give this odd feature any staying power.

Cast: Robyn Miller, Tom Olson, Nicole Heigh, Jimmy Chen, Mischa Jakupcak, Matt Daniels.

Director-screenwriter-editor: Robyn Miller.

Producers: Robyn Miller, Mischa Jakupcak.

Director of photography: Matt Daniels.

Production designer: Joe Rynearson.

Music: Robyn Miller.

Costume designer: Rebecca Luke.

No rating, 95 minutes.

 

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