A ‘Vampire’ Who Needs a Fix

Brooding vampire movies and TV shows are in vogue right now, so it’s no wonder that another film at Sundance is capitalizing on these blood-sucking creatures. Add Iwai Shunji’s festival entry, Vampire, into the mix. The film recalls a similar Swedish vampire film from 2008–Let the Right One In. Both are similar in style and tone featuring a loner protagonist seeking human connection and gratification.

Shunji’s film is more artsy and melancholic as he presents a biology teacher named Simon (Kevin Zegers) living a meek, ordinary life taking care of his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother. But nothing is ordinary as he scouts for women willing to end their lives by suicide. Instead of them jumping off a bridge or hanging by noose, he offers to end their lives peacefully by extracting their blood through intravenous tubes. It’s a much better way than trying to feed off the blood from a splattered, mangled body.

Told in a methodical and artistic fashion, Vampire is a dark, chamber film that should be marketable to fans of that Swedish film. It is not for those people who are expecting some vampiric drama like those Twilight movies. But it is still a well-crafted film that goes on a tangent from him extracting blood in a assisted-suicide procedure to him teaching Biology to his students.

The recurring chamber score played throughout the film added a depth of sadness. Dominant piano chords and heavy string-playing are heard in the many scenes underscoring the moody elegance. It can be plodding in moving the narrative forward, but the slowness is what gives the story its weight and cinematic substance.

Shunji is an extremely multi-faceted director in that not only being the writer and director of Vampire, he is also credited as the editor and composer. Truly impressive, indeed, for a film that will benefit not because of its popular titular subject matter, but because of its striking images and well-crafted storytelling execution. Disturbing in some scenes, the balance is leveled with its expert handling of emotional fluidity.

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