Vampire

The lifeblood drains early from "Vampire," the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Iwai Shunji.

With:
With: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Adelaide Clemens, Trevor Morgan, Aoi Yu, Amanda Plummer, Kristin Kreuk, Rachael Leigh Cook.

The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes whose blood he can drink after euthanizing them. Abundantly goofy, but atmospheric only in spots, this flat-affect screwballer has its moments, and may attract a minor cult. Still, even amid the current vampire craze, Iwai’s stubbornly unsatisfying farce should keep “Vampire” mostly in the coffin.

Set in the Pacific Northwest, Iwai’s overcast-looking pic opens on Zegers’ Simon driving a young woman known only as Jellyfish (Keisha Castle-Hughes), who believes the two will be helping each other to kill themselves. But Simon, after gently easing Jellyfish to her death with sleeping pills and the drawing of blood, fails to fulfill his part of the joint suicide pact, instead slowly slurping the dead woman’s blood from a jar and then fleeing the scene.

A slow succession of oddball vignettes reveals that the vampire works in daylight as a high-school biology teacher, and that he freakishly cares for his mom (Amanda Plummer), who has Alzheimer’s, by keeping the old woman tied to huge balloons in their apartment so she can’t escape. On an impromptu fishing trip, Simon meets Laura (Rachael Leigh Cook), who becomes obsessed with him, breaking into his place and striking up one-way conversations with his mute mother.

Having successfully deflated the viewer’s expectation of horror after a half-hour or so, Iwai abruptly shifts gears by introducing Renfield (Trevor Morgan), whose own methods of acting vampiric are far more violent than Simon’s. A scene of Renfield viciously attacking a female victim while Simon watches in shock appears not only deeply disturbing but disconcertingly out of place in a movie that otherwise favors the low-key.

Later, as a gentle romance develops between Simon and another suicidal woman known as Ladybird (Adelaide Clemens), Iwai’s tonal palette begins to seem determined at random, while payoffs within any of the film’s varying moods are frustratingly withheld. The pic’s ungainliness increases even further in the final reels, as Iwai tosses out a half-dozen would-be endings while failing to make a case for the viewer’s interest in borderline-milquetoast Simon.

Actors in the film appear as little more than impassive props, while tech credits remain undistinguished, except in Iwai’s fastidiously composed scenes of ritual bloodletting — wherein, ironically enough, “Vampire” momentarily springs to life.

Vampire

Canada-U.S.

Production: A Rockwell Eyes presentation, in association with Convergence Entertainment, of a Rockwell production. (International sales: Fortissimo Films, Amsterdam.) Produced by Shunji Iwai, Tim Kwok. Directed, written, edited by Shunji Iwai.

Crew: Camera (color), Iwai; music, Iwai; production designer, Alexandra Rojek; set decorator, Oscar Trainor; costume designer, Tanya Lipke; sound, Benjamin McDonald, Grady Lawlor; visual effects supervisors, Suzuki Yoshitaka, Hosomi Yuka; visual effects, Monster Film Partners; special effects coordinator, Brant McIlroy; stunt coordinator, Jeff Ong; line producer, Deboragh Gabler; assistant director, Matthias Mellinghaus; casting, Brad Gilmore. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 22, 2011. Running time: 120 MIN.

With: With: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Adelaide Clemens, Trevor Morgan, Aoi Yu, Amanda Plummer, Kristin Kreuk, Rachael Leigh Cook.

More Film

  • DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER

    Dubai: Festival President Abdulhamid Juma on Growing The Market and Opening to TV

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

  • oprah actors on actors

    Oprah Winfrey to Receive 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globes (Watch)

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

  • Kevin Hart Great Outdoors

    Film News Roundup: Kevin Hart Boards Action-Comedy 'On the Run' at Universal

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    AMC Adding Late-Night Screenings for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

  • Donald Trump 'Mentally Unfit' to Be

    Donald Trump Is 'Mentally Unfit' to Be U.S. President, Rob Reiner Says

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

  • Tiffany Haddish Girls Trip

    Tiffany Haddish Joins Ike Barinholtz in Satirical Thriller 'The Oath'

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

  • The Greatest Showman on Earth

    Hugh Jackman to Perform 'Greatest Showman' Song Live During Fox's 'A Christmas Story Live' Telecast

    The lifeblood drains early from “Vampire,” the English-language debut of Japanese multihyphenate Shunji Iwai (“All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who seems to have spread himself anemically thin by writing, directing, shooting, cutting and scoring the ineffectively bizarre pic himself. Not undead, but definitely a pervert, Kevin Zegers’ geeky title character prowls online for suicidal young femmes […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content