Saturday, 17 October 2009

Vampyrer (2008)

Vampyrer (Vampires) is a Swedish vampire movie that was released in 2008 and apparently vanished without trace. As modern horror movies go it’s not as bad as most, and at least it doesn’t have any CGI.

Vera and Vanja are sisters. They are vampires. They live on the streets of a city (presumably Stockholm) and they prey on urban low-lifes. Including neo-nazi bikers, which is possibly not the smartest thing they could do, especially given that they are vampires possessing no supernatural powers and no special abilities.

Vera is content with life as a vampire, but she is worried about her sister. Vanja seems depressed. She shows worrying signs of existential angst. I suspect she’s simply watched too many episodes of Angel. She yearns to be like the normal people. She wants an ordinary life. And she’s met this guy she really likes. It isn’t clear if she’s told him about her odd little habits, like drinking blood and killing people, but he says he loves her so she’s sure it will all be OK. Although there’s still the matter of the neo-nazi bikers, and the fact that Vera killed their leader.

The most interesting thing about the movie is that these vampires are not fearsome hunters of the night. They’re more scared, vulnerable and helpless than their potential victims. In fact they’re so helpless and hopeless you can’t help wondering how they managed to survive on the streets of any city for more than 15 minutes. They appear to have no survival skills and no instincts for self-preservation.

The movie is very Dark and Edgy. It’s very grainy and badly lit, although that might be more to do with budgetary limitations rather than artistic choices. Writer-director Peter Pontikis appears to have little idea of what he wanted to achieve other than to make his movie Dark and Edgy. He fails to explore the relationship between the sisters or to develop their personalities in sufficient detail to make us care about them. The ending is predictable and unsatisfying.

Jenny Lampa as Vera is the one thing the movie really has going for it. With a better script she might really have done something with this role.

While it’s not a great movie, when compared to the usual run of modern horror movies it at least has one or two good ideas and it at least aspires to rely more on mood and character than on gore and special effects. So by the admittedly catastrophically low standards of modern horror it’s worth a look. And it appears to be Peter Pontikis’s first feature film so taking that into consideration it would be unfair to write him off on the basis of this one movie.

Since watching this movie I've seen the other modern Swedish vampire movie, Let the Right One In (which I didn't like at all) and it's made me appreciate the virtues of Vampyrer a lot more. Vampyrer is a very rare beast, a modern movie that doesn't feel bloated and overlong. And it has far more interesting characters.

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