Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vampyr Review

My only previous experience with filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer came when I witnessed the miracle known as The Passion of Joan of Arc a little over a year ago, which after a revisit has safely found a spot in my five favorite films of all time. Vampyr is certainly not lacking in terms of craft, as it is a remarkably well realized film and the atmosphere achieved is actually enhanced by the fact that it was released in 1932. It's hard to explain, but something about the authenticity of its age rather than just a modern work re-created to feel old makes this horror classic all the more surreal, and thus it is impossible to not feel that creepy tingle down your spine throughout.

Despite the fact that the film itself really did nothing wrong, I can't help but feel a bit of disappointment after watching my second Dreyer work, and the truth is it's my fault. The word gets tossed around a lot and thus it may have lost some of its impact, but The Passion of Joan of Arc is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is pitch perfect, emotionally exhausting, powerful cinema. When I watched it, I had tears in my eyes and I wasn't even sure why. It's just so damn beautiful. Vampyr was everything I could have expected in terms of style and Dreyer was clearly a visionary behind the camera, but a deeper connection is missing. 

A step down for Carl Theodor Dreyer, yet still a finer achievement than a vast majority of films in the horror genre. Late at night in a pitch black room, the flicker of haunting imagery filmed over 80 years ago made my skin crawl and my eyes play tricks on me, as if shadows cast across the walls were something far more sinister. If you were thinking about paying money to rent some terrible bullshit like Annabelle, put the remote down and give Vampyr a look instead.


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