It would seem that in my attempt to fill up October with horror goodness, the advanced copy I received of Byzantium slipped through the cracks. My apologies for this getting to everyone so late, but better late than never, right?
Right off the bat I was impressed by two things. One, the quote on the cover of the Blu-ray says “The best vampire film since Let the Right One In” from Flix Capacitor. That is pretty impressive considering that Let the Right One In is easily one of my best vampire films out there. Two, the director is Neil Jordan. If that sounds familiar, it should! He directed some great films including The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire. I went in with zero doubts that this movie would wow me.
The film is very much like Interview with the Vampire in its delivery. The story is of Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan), both 200 plus year old vampires surviving in modern day. Eleanor reminds me of Louis in that she only kills the elderly and is very kind about it, taking them when they want to go. Clara is like Lestat, doing whatever it takes to survive including prostitution and murder.
Like Louis, Eleanor desperately wants to share her story. She attends an identity class with a friend she made named Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) where she is given the assignment to write an essay about herself that must be true. Like a fool, she writes about her life as a human, her transformation to vampire and everything since and presents it to Frank. Instead of keeping it to himself, Frank shares it with the teacher, who shares it with someone else and so on.
The cool thing about the film is that the vampires aren’t the stereotypical vampires. They can walk in the sunlight and they don’t have fangs. Instead, they have this one thumb nail that grows wicked long and sharp. They use this to penetrate the skin so they can drink their victims’ blood. Even the way they become vampires is different. Instead of being bitten and turning, they must go to a specific place to find eternal life.
Overall, Byzantium is a good movie. Would I be so bold as to say it was as good as Let the Right One In? No, but that isn’t to say it isn’t worth seeing. The first half was a little slow but once the pace started to pick up, things improved. The acting is actually pretty top notch and the story is easy to follow. As a vampire flick, I’m glad they chose a different direction than most. Just don’t expect Blade when you’re going to get Anne Rice.
Byzantium is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.