Vampire – Siff 2011 Movie Review

Vampire [ Canada (Canadian), 2011, 119 minutes ]
Director: Iwai Shunji
Principal Cast: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk
See it: June 1, 2, 5 at SIFF

Vampire takes a slow, depressing, somewhat confusing, and ultimately disappointing look into the life of Simon: a young, unassuming high school science teacher who has an unexplained desire to drink human blood. Simon is not a vampire, but he is saddled with that moniker as more of his “victims” are found dead and drained of their blood. In reality, Simon meets these girls on “Side by Cide”, a website where suicidal individuals meet up to plan their deaths together.  Here Simon finds girls who want to die, and he has a warped sense that he is helping them by providing an easy painless death by draining their blood.  Simon has no intent on following through with any of these suicide pacts, and once his “partner” is dead, he gets to reap the rewards.  We never learn why Simon wants to collect (and sometimes drink) human blood, and that makes it difficult to decide whether to loathe or pity him.

Throughout the movie, we watch Simon discuss death, drain blood from depressed young girls, attend gatherings of other “blood lovers”, and concoct ways to keep his senile mother from wandering out of their apartment. His only redeeming moments come during interactions with one of his students, who is suicidal. Instead of wooing her to a painless death, he actually tries to persuade her that life is worth living and suicide is not the answer. Ultimately, I was left feeling like I had learned too much about some of Simon’s unimportant relationships, but far too little about the interactions that seemed to define him.

Overall Entertainment / Enjoyment: D
I was unimpressed with this movie, as were a number of other patrons who actually left the theatre after a particularly violent and graphic scene involving Simon and another “blood lover”. Overall I found the story unbelievable, yet not fantastical enough to be allowed the unbelievability. The only redeeming aspect of this film comes in the form of Rachel Leigh Cook’s character, who becomes infatuated with Simon and goes over the top to insert herself into his life. She provided some much needed moments of dark comedy, and I could almost recommend the movie just to watch her character, but the rest of your time could be better spent at another film.

Film Festivalness: C
A slow and meditative character study, which fits the film festival bill, but it can’t figure out what it wants to be – drama, horror, thriller, black comedy – what am I watching?

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