In my review of HERE, I talked about the six easy steps a director must follow to get the audience to leave. Turns out, director Braden King is a hack, because the director of Vampire figured out how to do it in one step:
Step 1 - asphyxiated rape bloodletting.
Folks left throughout the two-hour screening of Vampire, with the first mini-exodus taking place about 15 minutes in (someone stood up and stated “well, I’ve seen enough,” which got a few laughs and gained him some companions to walk out with). Shortly thereafter, there was the asphyxiated rape bloodletting, and that got at least a dozen people to leave. By the end of the film (unlike HERE, I did stick this one out because it was not entirely irredeemable and never lost me completely), my previously-full row consisted of me and one dude way on the other end.
Vampire is, as one might guess, about a vampire. Only Simon (Kevin Zegers) isn’t a glittery Edward or a Sookie-slurring Bill. He’s just a quiet 28-year-old high school biology teacher who has a compulsion to drink blood. The opening sequence shows us how he generally finds his victims — he uses the internet to find suicidal wannabes. For example, there’s a website where suicidal folks meet up so they can both go down together. Director Iwai Shunji does a nice job of relaying this information through exposition — showing rather than telling — in a nice, slow-paced scene mostly involving Simon and his victim driving, talking about why she wants to die and how it should happen. Simon eventually gets her to agree on blood-draining, and he says he’ll drain himself after he drains her. And thus, Simon gets his latest supply of blood.
I had high hopes for the film after this opening sequence (which is right around the time the “well, I’ve seen enough” pronouncement was made). But the film never pays off with anything interesting. For example, we get introduced to Simon’s mom (Amanda Plummer), who he keeps locked at home, with balloons tied to her, because she has Alzheimer’s. Plummer basically hams it up in a performance of a character that adds very little to the film or our understanding of Simon. And then there’s poor Rachel Leigh Cook. Her character’s motivations are absolutely inexplicable, she’s clearly crazy, and it’s tough to tell how well Cook is acting in the role because the girl is just so off her gord. Her character’s sole purpose seems to be as a deus ex machina.
There’s not a lot else that happens in the movie. Simon goes to a party with gothy-vampires, though it’s never explained why, given how he’s so noticably uncomfortable to be there. This leads to the asphyxiated rape bloodletting, when one of the vampires finds out that Simon is the media-dubbed serial killer, the Vampire, and decides to show him his own talents. It’s a long drawn out series of scenes that’s poorly acted by the goth, and I understand why folks left after the rapey bit. I probably should have too, because after that, we get more crazy Rachel Leigh Cook, a van full of suicide kids, some inexplicably awkward camera angles, and then a conclusion, of sorts. There is a Let the Right One In type thing that gets developed late in the film, but it’s not enough to ultimately reward the viewer, and we don’t ever really learn anything about Simon or this compulsion of his. Vampire started off with a lot of potential but given, the movie as a whole, I can’t even remotely suggest this film, even to horror or vampire completists. Go watch Let the Right One In or Thirst, instead.
Vampire screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival as part of the World Dramatic Competition.