Director Jennifer Sheridan’s debut feature Rose: A Love Story is an eerie, moving portrait of love in sickness and health in this claustrophobic yet beautiful take on the vampire myth.
Lead by Sophie Rundle and Matt Stokoe (who also penned the screenplay), Rose: A Love Story follows a young married couple who live in voluntary isolation, spending their days hiding away in a quaint cabin in the woods.
It’s with good reason: Rose (Sophie Rundle) suffers from a bizarre medical condition, which makes it necessary for her to avoid sunlight and regularly consume blood. Sam (Matt Stokoe) cares for Rose day and night, hunting local wildlife to quell her hunger and ensuring they stay off the grid as much as possible.
Things become all the more dangerous when their seclusion is threatened by the arrival of an unexpected stranger.
It’s not an easy lifestyle for the couple to maintain, and where the film truly shines is its depiction of Rose’s condition not as a supernatural curse but a debilitating illness akin to cancer. While the DNA of the vampire film is certainly present here, the dynamic between Rose and Sam is in full focus and absolutely works thanks to natural and powerful performances from Stokoe and Rundle.
Rose’s struggle to stay strong despite her condition is heartbreaking without falling into melodrama. In an early scene, an intimate moment between Rose and Sam falls apart as she admits she can’t stand to keep the light on when they’re physically intimate because of her emancipated and pale appearance.
It’s clear that Rose feels like a burden on Sam; but it’s a burden he’s more than willing to take on in the name of love – even if it takes him down a dark, dangerous path.
It’s touching, tragic and frequently tense as the outside world encroaches upon them. Rose: A Love Story proves that there’s still plenty of fantastic stories to be told in this dormant but rich genre.