EL CONDE on Netflix is a new vampire movie with a twist. It’s from Chile and features a story where the dictator Augusto Pinochet is actually a vampire. Shot in black and with, this is a wild genre-mix that features comedy, fantasy, history, and (of course) horror. Read our full El Conde movie review here!
EL CONDE is a new Netflix horror-comedy from Chile. Actually, it’s much more than a “just” horror-comedy as it also mixes fantasy and history. It’s a bold new take on a vampire story that brings to mind What We Do in the Shadows or even the very recent Renfield. The dark comedy mixed with brutal horror and a plot based on real people.
The fact that it’s shot in black and white as well as featured a narrator who spoke English with a rather posh British accent was enough to get me hooked. Unfortunately, this vampire movie does lose its focus along the way and seems to slow down almost to a standstill. It gets back on track towards the end, but there’s a problematic middle that does not help the movie as a whole.
Continue reading our El Conde movie review below. Find it on Netflix from September 15, 2023.
Augusto Pinochet as a vampire just makes sense
I loved the fact that El Conde (“The Count” in English) takes place in a world we know and features real-life people. In that sense, it’s a very poignant and dark horror-comedy that operates within a parallel universe setting. Directly inspired by the recent history of Chile which has resulted in a story where the Chilean general and dictator Augusto Pinochet was actually a vampire.
We first meet him in France and under a different name. This is where he first tastes blood and becomes a vampire before later heading to South America. After a quick history recap, we meet the now-old vampire. In fact, he has lived 250 years and is tired. Having lost power in Chile, he faked his own death and now wants the “true” death rather than live on as a vampire.
Well, that’s the plan anyway, but plans can change. People (or vampires, as it were) can be tempted to change their plans.
Brilliantly shot in black and white
Having El Conde in black and white is all kinds of brilliant. All the brutal violence and blood just take a backseat in a very strange way. We all know that the dark liquid is blood, but not seeing the red color allows us to focus on everything else happening in the scene.
And showing Augusto Pinochet – one of the biggest symbols of world fascism – as a vampire is the focus of this movie. Of course, one could easily argue that he was effectively a vampire that sucked his country dry. Draining both the people of Chile and stealing funds that should be used to improve the country for its own purpose.
The entire Pinochet family were bloodsuckers and many factual and historical details pointing to this are included.
At the time when we’re watching the vampire Augusto Pinochet, he’s living hidden in a ruined mansion. It’s located in the very cold southern tip of the country and we can see their breath clearly at all times. It may be a mansion, but it’s clearly filthy with doors, windows, and even furniture broken. It is freezing and everyone is miserable.
“Everyone” refers to Pinochet himself, his wife Lucía Hiriart (who is described brutally as well), and their five children. Also, there’s Pinochet’s butler. Or manservant, if you will. Actually, he’s essentially “a familiar”. Yes, just like Guillermo in What We Do in the Shadows.
They are all a miserable bunch of people who don’t particularly care for one another. Or certainly has a very strange way of showing affection, because there is affection there. Often of a rather wicked variety.
Also, there’s a Nun there to perform an exorcism, but she’s undercover as an accountant. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Watch El Conde on Netflix now!
Pablo Larraín is the filmmaker responsible for this very dark satire. He is the director and also co-writes the screenplay with his usual co-writer Guillermo Calderón. The two previously made movies such as the mystery-thriller El Club (2015) and the crime biopic Neruda (2016).
Of course, many people will probably be more familiar with a few of Pablo Larraín’s other movies. He directed the two biography movies Jackie (2016) starring Natalie Portman in the title role and Spencer (2021) with Kristen Stewart in the title role. Both movies resulted in Oscar nominations for Best Actress, which gave a lot of exposure to the director as well.
I didn’t know quite what to expect from El Conde but I do know that about ten minutes into the film, I was just sitting there with a huge smile on my face. It’s quirky, direct, brutal, full of dark comedy and satire, and features a vampire story. What’s not to like?!
Well, as it turns out, the pacing. With a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes, it does have a few too many slow passages. It’s a damn shame because I would highly recommend this movie. However, I also have to state that there are parts of this movie I would rate 4 or 5 (out of 5) while others would land on just 2. That makes for a somewhat choppy overall experience.
Having said that, you absolutely still have to watch El Conde. Its good parts more than make up for those slower (dare I say boring) parts.
El Conde is released on Netflix globally on September 15, 2023.
Director: Pablo Larraín
Writers: Pablo Larraín and Guillermo Calderón
Cast: Jaime Vadell, Gloria Münchmeyer, Alfredo Castro, Paula Luchsinger
Augusto Pinochet is a vampire ready to die, but the vultures around him won’t let him go without one last bite.