5. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
This film has been praised by multiple reviewers and mentioned a few times on this website alone. Jim Jarmusch’s slow vampire epic brings together the likes of Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton to create truly complex characters whose vampirism is only one of the many character quirks that plague them.
Indeed, Only Lovers Left Alive is more interested in the artist’s condition than the vampire’s, and that can be seen from the two protagonists’ relationship to the craft.
While the film itself is a mood piece (a great one, might I add), Only Lovers Left Alive does add something to the vampire genre. It brings forward characters that could easily be described as “hipster vampires”. How is that a good thing? Well, it’s the 21st century! You’d assume that even the vampires of old would have disposed of their capes, swords and wooden coffins by now.
4. What We Do in The Shadows (2014)
Many comedy films have tackled the “vampire parody genre”, but few have actually managed to be watchable. In late years, only a single one reached perfection. What We Do in The Shadows is a mockumentary by the New Zealand wonder Taika Waititi, who also stars in the film. The movie follows three vampire friends, Viago, Vladislav and Deacon, whose efforts of adapting to the 21st century landscape sway between the hilarious and the dramatic.
What We Do in The Shadows mercilessly picks on most vampire tropes, while its protagonists commit truly horrific deeds such as dressing up, getting into night clubs and making human friends. The reason why this fake documentary succeeds in being both funny and thought provoking is that it never takes its theme too seriously. Since the three protagonists (and their demonic 4th friend) never intend to do anything “vampiric”, they might as well be a part of any minority.
3. Thirst (2009)
While Park Chan-wook is more famous to Western audiences for movies such as Oldboy, Stoker or The Handmaiden, it was Thirst that established him as a master of the macabre. Thirst is not unusual in the way it covers the vampiric infection, but it’s different in the way it follows those affected by it.
The story of a Catholic priest turned vampire, Thrist does its best not to focus on the exotic nature of this disease, especially since the movie features other viruses too. Furthermore, its characters seem to pass through complex dramas that would have befallen them anyway. The existence of vampires is a just a bonus for the hungry soul.
2. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Speaking of estranged protagonists, this Persian-American production looks like a noir, includes horror elements, but genuinely feels like an art film. Lily Amirpour’s film covers everything, from substance abuse to crime and poverty, and, of course, a little feminist ranting. Surprisingly, amidst this complex mélange of characters and events, the presence of the vampire does not seem awkward at all.
In fact, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is not on this list because of its story (a young man tries to save both his future and his addicted father), its vision, or its female antagonist. The movie is on this list because it shows us that in a world where the uncertain and the incredible reign, the existence of vampires would be neither surprising, nor scary.
1. Let the Right One In (2008)
While the American adaptation, Let Me In, had its merits, it was the Swedish version that was closest to John Ajvide Lindqvist’s vision, especially since the latter also wrote the screenplay. However, just as the author noticed, it’s rare for a novel to have not one, but two awarded movie adaptations.
Let the Right One In succeeds where many other vampire movies have failed: it humanizes the supernatural until you stop seeing the blood and the fangs, and you start feeling the drama. The friendship between a human boy and a vampire girl turns into something more, as Let the Right One In mixes love, innocence and abuse into a difficult to forget narrative.
While other movies deserved a mention, many of them were either too ridiculous (Van Helsing, Queen of the Damned), or not really focused on the vampiric kind (Night Watch). Others were remakes (Fright Night, Salem’s Lot), decent, but unmemorable features (Kiss of the Damned), or poorly executed productions (The Moth Diaries). If we were to “stretch” the 21st century timeline, we could also could include the praiseworthy Shadow of the Vampire or even the contested Dracula 2000.
Some movies portray them as the eternally damned. Other use them as cruel metaphors. A few show them as savage beasts. The 21st century had all the vampires you could watch, and this is why we’re open to any other suggestions. And please don’t say Lesbian Vampire Killers…
Author Bio: Vlad Stoiculescu is a writer and senior copywriter living in Bucharest, Romania. When not digging up obscure horror films for Taste of Cinema, he writes marketing materials, scripts, short stories and, believe it or not, children’s books.