Byzantium (2012) (Ireland, UK, USA) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m fed up to my eyebrows with films about zombies and vampires. I won’t say it’s impossible to make a good film about either one, but it seems unlikely at this point. If a good one is made, I expect it will be another comedy like Zombieland.
I thought I just might have found an exception with this one. It is directed by Neil Jordan, a maker of serious films like The Crying Game and Michael Collins. It stars two seriously good actresses, Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, who was recently so good in Brooklyn.
The premise: About the time of the Battle of Trafalgar Clara Webb (Arterton), a prostitute, is turned into a vampire by a really nasty British Army officer. He impregnates her, and she bears a child, Eleanor, who she has to give up to an orphanage. Two hundred years later they are passing as sisters. Clara is still whoring to make ends meet, and Eleanor hates her immortality and the fact that she has to kill to live. So she takes only those old people who are ready to die. Then she meets a boy, and complications ensue.
On the plus side, about the only elements of the vampire legend that remain here are the bloodsucking, and the fact that a vampire can’t enter your house unless you invite her in. None of the burning in the sunlight, sleeping in a coffin, crosses, and garlic baloney. It is a good story, well-acted, well-written, well-filmed …
And it left me cold. The pace was slow; it really needed to go a bit faster. And it’s not like I’m screaming for more buckets of blood to be spilled—there was blood here, some gruesome scenes, but it’s clear this wasn’t made for the horror-slash-slasher-movie crowd—but I could have used a bit more action. And, bottom line, though it was an interesting variation on the old, old trope, it’s still a fucking vampire movie. After about an hour it had worn out its welcome. I’m sure there are many who will like this, and I respect their opinion and admit my prejudice … but phooey.