Rufus is a boy out of time. Not knowing how old he is, what his last name is, or where he comes from, he and his traveling companion land in a small town, whereupon his companion promptly commits suicide. Left in the hands of the townspeople, he is taken in and absorbed into the town’s life, while trying to navigate the waters of new relationships and experiences he is completely new to. Trouble starts when Rufus’ urge for human blood can’t be contained, and a man comes to town asking more questions about him than is comfortable.

Rufus is a different sort of vampire movie. Where other films about teens and their vampire counterparts are about torrid love affairs, this is a quiet film about a small town and its problems in which Rufus’ vampirism is barely a player. The fact that he might be a vampire (which is frequently in question) is treated by the characters in the film as simply another one of his traits, like having brown hair.

While most of the focus in Rufus is on the complex relationships of the town – a married couple who shared a painful event and have grown apart, a confident neighbour girl who uses sex as power, and a young man struggling with his sexuality – there are still enough supernatural elements to make this a solid entry into the vampire genre. The film goes out of its way to bring the concept of a vampire into reality, which also means that the “vampire hunter” isn’t actually that. Instead he has a “real world” job of hunting down Rufus and returning him to a pharmaceutical company for research, rather than wanting to put a steak through his heart.

Being a relationship drama the film pivots almost entirely on the character building and performances in the film. Veteran Canadian actors Kelly Rowan and David James Elliott play the couple who take Rufus in. The considerable talent they bring to their roles grounds the film and makes the central conflict engaging. Rory J. Saper does a great job of being a central, confused, slightly feral character to start and gradually growing into his role and friend, boyfriend and son. The real stand out performance here has to be Kim Coates. Coates’ ability to play civil and professional while hiding a vicious and violent side perfectly matches the temperament of the thing he’s hunting.

Is Rufus opening weekend worthy?

Rufus is not the kind of movie you want to rush out and see, but it is definitely one that shouldn’t be missed. The pacing will madden those familiar with fast paced, over-the-top vampire movies, but if you can relax into the film, you’ll find lots of love here.

Rufus opens in theatres on Friday, July 26, 2013 at Cineplex Yonge & Dundas. Check their website for showtimes and details.

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