When I pick up Lincoln from school he wants to listen to Halloween music on Pandora. I'm always down for that, but I have a huge problem with its music selection. I've heard like four different versions of the "Monster Mash" multiple times but it's NEVER the original version. It's a good song regardless but the version by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt Kickers blows every other cover out of the water. It really bugs me these cover versions keep popping up. But I digress. Last night after catching up on "Big Brother," I watched...
I've done a lot of recent movies as of late and when I have a run of too many newer movies, I like to hit the way back machine, and this one certainly fits the bill. A traveler named Allan decides to rest for the night at an inn. In the middle of the night, an older man walks into his locked room and kind of walks around for a bit before setting down a package and writing to only open it in the event of his death. He then tells the young man that "she is dying" and he needs to help. WIth that creepy intro, the man leaves the room and Allan goes back to bed.
The next day while Allan is out and about he sees the man, but before he can get to him the older man is shot and killed before he can answer the millions of questions Allan, and us, have for him. That doesn't make too much difference because he comes to find the old man's daughter is very sick. With the old man dead, Allan opens the package to find a book about vampires. After reading through, he concludes that a vampire is attacking the young girl and he decides he's going to help.
Vampyr was made at the very end of the Silent Film Era, but that style hadn't been quite shaken off just yet. So while the movie does have dialogue, it's used sparingly. It also uses title cards to give you information as well which is a little jarring. I'm not one for silent films, I appreciate what they're able to pull off with the limited technology of the time but they're not the most riveting. This one, however, does a lot of cool stuff.
Vampyr has an eerie, dreamlike atmosphere that sticks throughout the entire movie. The film is incredibly unique; it uses so many different angles, camera shots, editing tricks and its use of shadows is so cool. Vampyr uses shadows better than any movie I've ever seen. It's like there's a whole nother world just underneath the surface in this movie. The shadows are completely independent of their sources and they're just going about their day and you don't know really anything about them or their motivations. My favorite scene in the film has a shadow of a dude with a peg leg and a rifle. He's just walking around, living his best life. The camera follows him around until he sits down on a bench in the exact position of another man sitting a few feet away and you realize that's the shadow heading back to its owner. It's really cool and it's almost like the director is showing off.
The imagery is cool too. The camera will fixate on things and you don't exactly know if you should be worried about it or not and it does a good job of keeping you on edge. Allan will oftentimes look down outside his window and see a man with a sickle walking around. It looks so ominous and adds to the mood that something is really off with this place. While watching, I was getting vibes of H.P. Lovecraft's "Shadow Over Innsmouth," but on a smaller scale and with a vampire instead of a town of Deep Ones.
I have to give this movie credit, it's impressive. With the dream-like quality over everything, you can't always tell what's real and what's not. At one point Allan sits down on a bench and has an out-of-body experience and he starts walking around in the shadow world. I love the ambition of the filmmakers here and I was impressed with everything they were able to pull off despite the very limited technology. This movie was made 91 years ago and it's a lot more impressive than a lot of what you see today as far as the story, editing and the way it was shot. Some movies, such as silent films, aren't for me, but I can still be impressed by them. This told a unique story in a really interesting way and that's to be commended.