Sunday, October 4, 2015

31 Days of Horror- Day 4: Byzantium (2012)

(dir. Neil Jordan)

IFC Films
Mother and daughter vampires, Clara and Eleanor try to find a sense of normalcy in an abandoned hotel while on the run from a misogynistic vampire brotherhood.

Byzantium may be one of the few, perhaps the only feminist vampire story I can think of. This alone makes the film a worthwhile offering to the vampire film mythology. Jordan and screenwriter, Moira Buffini, abandon most of the cliché narrative arcs of vampires and instead offers a character driven mother-daughter story in which neither character understands how the other puts her life and emotions on the line to protect the other. Told through a present day narrative and extended flashbacks, the film fully fleshes out both characters and their respective plights. Leads Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan both give equally sympathetic and calculated performances that raise the stakes of the drama. Most impressive is Jordan’s direction and Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography, which gives the entire film the look of German Romanticism. Together these aspects make Byzantium one of the most underrated and understated horror films in recent years.

Scare Factor: 1/5 Byzantium is a gothic horror film for those who aren’t looking to have nightmares this season, and a blast of fresh air for those who want a bit of a breather from their traditional horror fare. Beautiful and remarkably shot, Jordan’s film stands as one of the best modern vampire tales.

*Available to watch on Netflix Instant

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