With all of the potential that vampires have to be creepy and thought-provoking and strange, it's a DAMN shame that pop culture and dumb teens turned them into sparkly, moody weirdos.
I think we all know who we're talking about here...
1. Only Lovers Left Alive
I mean these two actors together. Yes, please, amiright?
Ahhh this old gem. The first time I saw it I was mostly surprised that it had taken someone so long to come up with the concept of vampires falling in love with EACH OTHER (gasp!). Instead of being conflicted with the ole usual of "oh no I'm in love with a human, what do I do, halp" plotline, Adam and Eve (seriously) are two vampires, centuries old, who are madly in love with one another. And this is not the cloying, desperate love that we're so accustomed to seeing in overblown paranormal movies. In fact when the movie begins, they're in two completely disparate places: he's in Detroit, and she's in Tangiers. Their lives come back together soon enough and we're shown that instead of being the primal creatures of the night (although Jarmusch never really lets us forget that either), they're mostly just snobs, lamenting humanity's lack of looking over their own history. This is one for lit nerds, philosophy nerds, musics nerds, and basically all nerds. Only Lovers Left Alive is a fresh look at the old vampire tales. Full review here!
Guitar nerds in particular will appreciate this scene:
You a vampire yet or what?
Okay, lemme do my weird nerdy thing here, as usual, and take this moment to extol the underratedness of Asian thrillers/horror. Thirst takes us through the travels of a priest, who becomes the victim of a failed medical experiment, which then turns him into a vampire. Adjusting to this new problem, the priest finds some different tastes in his vampire life. The movie, done by Korean master Chan-Wook Park (of Oldboy and Lady Vengeance), is a fantastically creepy commentary on what vampirism means for those who are turned, and how they can (or can't) deal with no longer being human. Again, it's Chan-Wook here, so needless to say it gets a little weird. But if you're looking for a fresh look at this old fairy tale, you'll definitely find it in this movie.
3. Let Me In
Nothing to see here...
The American remake of the Swedish hit (I know, I'm terrible, I still haven't seen the original, sorry!) follows a young boy living in New Mexico who befriends a strange young girl who lives in his apartment complex. Both outcasts, they find comfort in each other. But while the boy is happy to have a new friend, the girl becomes increasingly strange, and the longer they know each other, the more demanding her friendship turns. This is a fascinating turn for the vampire tales we all know, with the vampire in this version being very physically immature despite her centuries-old psyche and the young boy who befriends her being about 11 or 12 years old. More a story of outcasts than anything, the movie focuses on the themes of loneliness, and how the life of a real vampire wouldn't be glamorous at all, but horrifyingly boring and sad.
4. What We Do in the Shadows
Omg, yes, all of it.
Yay! A funny one! A documentary crew gains permission from a house full of vampires to get perspective on their every-day lives. Oh my god. This movie somehow manages to poke fun at all of the stereotypical vampire legends at once. I don't even know if I can do this proper justice by explaining it, but suffice it to say, the movie is freakin' hilarious. Just watch the damn trailer:
5. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
I hope in the near future they find some way for you to have videos that you can hang up on your wall, a la photos in Harry Potter. Because if that were possible, I'd hang scenes from this movie all over my walls. The cinematography is breathtaking. Shot in black and white, the movie almost reminds me of French new wave or something. The tone is meandering but calculated. Nothing in this movie happens by accident. Our plot follows a woman who stalks the people of a small Iranian town. Her story is spliced with that of a young man named Arash, an all-around good guy who meets her and starts to fall for her, not knowing what she is. But this is far from the Twilight-esque exaggeration of teen hormones. Their characters foil one another in a way that's fascinating and every scene that they share is almost totally tense, with a mixture of danger but also that dumb new-love kind of nervous energy.
I don't usually have a ton of patience for movies with this kind of pacing, but I've gotta say that the music mixed with the angles included in each shot make it worthwhile. I could really nerd out for a full post about how UH-MAZE-ING the cinematography, but suffice it to say, if you have an artistic eye, that alone will hold you over for the entire film. It's freakin' gorgeous. And while the film isn't horror per se, it's edgy enough to keep you on your toes!
Screw the trailer, watch this. And keep in mind that SHE is the vampire. Js.