Vampire (2011)

Drama, Horror, Thriller
Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Amanda Plummer, Trevor Morgan
A biology teacher looks for young suicidal women online to satisfy his taste for blood. Rather than violent, his acts are quite peaceful and always consented.
  • Eleven Arts Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 15 Sep 2012 Released:
  • 19 Aug 2013 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:

Not your usual fare, but worth the watch5/10
Sure feels like Vancouver, BC during the dreary days, which creates the appropriate mood for the flick. Its title unfortunately associates it with some real stinkers. It is not one of those. I don't know where the movie fits, but it leaves a significant after-taste. I use these user reviews to help decide whether or not I will watch the movie. If you do too, then it's a watcher, but strangely so. It feels Canadian, as in raw and hand-held sort of. Acting is solid, and the story keeps your attention. Vampire, no. Sanguine something, perhaps. It should not be castigated just because it is not polished to the extreme, and all tricked out with CGI.
Very good but a few too many tricks7/10
I just finished watching this film at Sundance, and it was nothing like I expected. Very little gore, a cool and somehow likable main character. Why Keisha Castle-Hughes has top billing I don't understand, when she only has one scene at the very beginning. Adelaide Clemens stood out, as the girl who just might save our "hero," had not Rachael Leigh Cook, great as the pushiest would-be girlfriend I ever saw, went and ruined it all. Amanda Plummer gives an outstanding performance while only uttering one word in the whole film. Kevin Segers is terrific as Simon. Simon is vampire as boy next door, without any annoying vampire cliches to get in the way.

Now my problems with the film. The dialogue was a little trying at some points, but since the writer/director is not a native English speaker,it's forgivable most of the time. The movie did go on too long, there were moments where I thought "okay, that's the end," followed later by, "okay, now that's the end." One of the final scenes, featuring Kristin Kreuk of Smallville fame, is charming doesn't give us any more insight into Simon's story. Was she the first? Why is this flashback being featured at the end like this, when Simon's story is, essentially, over? My biggest problem with the film were the rotated shots. For no apparent reason as we see Simon and his new friend fishing, the shot is upside down. There's at least another few shots that are sideways. They added nothing to the film and only inspired me to tilt my head for a better view.

The film also features a insightful study on the depressed and suicidal. Both actors and director bring their pain to the forefront without any over-dramatic cliches. The scenes between Simon and the women are poignant, especially the non-vampire scene with his student.

If you're looking for a horror movie, this is not it. The most gruesome scene in the film features the main character only on the sidelines being repulsed by it. But if you like vampire as ordinary hero -- and not the fangy or sparkly kind -- you may enjoy it.
If you know Iwai, you know what to expect7/10
This is not a vampire flick. It shouldn't really be necessary to point this out, after all the summary makes it very clear. But it would seem that the reason for this film's overall cold reception is precisely that it doesn't feature supernatural, love-lorn beings to satisfy inhibited sexual desires of self-destruction. Rather, it presents an altogether uncomfortable view on real-life blood-thirst and a controversial look at suicidal obsession.

If you're familiar with Iwai's work, then neither the subject matter nor the style come as much of a surprise. Iwai's staple theme is alienated youth and the thin line between friendship and destruction. In 'All about Lily Chou-Chou', he explored bullying and underage prostitution against a backdrop of how virtual and real-life personalities differ, 'Swallowtail Butterfly' dealt with the ups and downs of a group of misfits bonding and betraying each other, and 'Hana & Alice' showed a close high-school-girl friendship with elements of rivalry over a particular boy.

'Vampire' follows a story which actually happened in Japan: a man convinces young women in suicide chat-rooms to die together with him, eventually tricking them so that he may consume their blood. The focus isn't so much on why he wants to do this (apart from ambivalent references to the quest for immortality), but rather why these women want to die - and this is where I see a continuity with Iwai's other work. It's not so much about the story itself, which takes somewhat unfathomable turns and ends up in a confusing melee, but rather the visuals, which create a mystified, surreal and at times even humorous perspective on death. The proverbial 'vampire' is actually seen as a perversion of this theme, which becomes obvious in a rather gory parody of the 'serial killer' image, complete with fangs and cape.

If you wonder what a Japanese film with American actors may look like, then this one may be very well for you. To me, it's been worthwhile just for seeing that the styles of Japanese cinema - character vagueness, visual rendition, and most of all quietness - can be translated into English rather well. However, if you really expect a vampire flick, better wait until the next 'Twilight' segment.
Bizarrely hypnotic7/10
Well I have to admit this is one of the strangest movies I had the opportunity to see in last few years. It's obviously not a horror or supernatural flick as title might have suggested - but it's a full pledged slow burning drama that almost has the 'art movie experience' feel to it. First and foremost - this is NOT a movie for average film-goer. It's slow paced, disturbing, unnerving, a true psychological drama with after burn effect that's not even particularly fun to watch but has that kind of hypnotic quality that holds you throughout the movie.

The way the movie is shot is sort of semi-documentary style and while some shots do look relatively cheap (it was probably filmed on shoe-string budget), the way the camera moves and shots are placed - there's almost a voyeurish characteristic to it, like the director Shunji Iwai is forcing us to observe what happens to these women and to our main character, and although we might be repulsed by it - we can't look away. It's also a novel way to dive into the world of suicide and strange obsessions and even though we can't feel much empathy for Simon and the way he's using suicidal girls for his own 'vampiric' urges - it all has a deep, profound sense of tragedy that it's not just black and white or right or wrong. The question of morals is left as a gray area here; we are merely observing what is happening and drawing our own conclusions. Acting is minimalistic, but it does serve the movie well - the scarce, empty locations and deeply melancholic orchestral soundtrack only enlarge the feelings of sadness, nihilism and the impossibility of belonging or fitting in.

In short - this is a really special kind of movie, one that will stick with you for a long time as you dwell on the fate of it's protagonists and also leave you to fight with your own feelings of insecurities, sense of abandonment and questions whether life is worth living that sometimes creep on us in our darkest moments through life...

Well-worth seeing but a duly warning: not meant for the faint of heart.
Deeply flawed, but interesting6/10
From the director of two of the best films about teenagers ever made, All About Lily Chou Chou and Hana and Alice, Vampire is an idiosyncratic art film. It was Iwai's English language debut, premiering at Sundance in January of 2011. It was so poorly reviewed that it barely even got released theatrically anywhere (only in Japan, as far as I can tell), and only recently became available in America via Amazon download. The truth is, it is a disaster. Thankfully, though, it's a very interesting disaster. With expectations adjusted accordingly, I liked it, at least a bit. Kevin Zegers plays a high school biology teacher who has a secret life as a serial killer called the Vampire because he drains his victims' blood. His victims, though, are consenting, wishing him to help them commit suicide. His pretenses are generally false - they believe he's going to commit suicide alongside them (or, alternately, that he's going to use the blood for scientific research on suicidals), but he is a gentle man. He actually believes himself to be a vampire, or maybe he wishes he were one, and he drinks the blood afterward. The film is often lovely - aided by a gorgeous, ethereal musical score by Iwai himself. There are a couple of killer sequences, particularly the film's only real horror sequence, where Zegers is forced to accompany another serial killer (Trevor Morgan) as he hunts and murders a woman by suffocating her with a plastic bag. Of all the deaths I've encountered in movies this past month (I only watch horror films in October), this was by far the most terrifying to me, with the woman just left to stumble around trying to escape her plight. The real failure of the film comes with the subplot involving Zegers' Alzheimers-ridden mother (Amanda Plummer), whom he keeps from wandering out of his apartment by attaching giant, white balloons to her. This feels like something out of a terrible indie comedy (well, it did premier at Sundance!) and it just never works. There are a lot of other instances of people just not acting like real people ever would.