Not a vampire Movie – Shunji Iwai’s Vampire

I remember Shunji telling me that this isn’t a film about Vampires.

The traditional notion of a Vampire movie especially in today’s post Twilight world is that of a bad teenage trend. Perhaps he meant that his film isn’t related to the hipster Hollywood-ization of Dracula, because it’s not.

Societies of the cheesy, cape donning vampire with sharp incisors might exist in the underground world, but what if a Vampire was a sensitive, quiet, and shy type of guy? What if he was a regular person with the need for blood? Shunji Iwai, explores the notion of a Vampire who’s not out to bite necks and goth in black, but has the need for blood.

The film exists on multiple layers. Simon’s a 28 year old biology teacher who’s actually into the idea of saving lives, while at the same time needs blood. But does he really? Is it either a physical or psychological need? Unlike Hollywood Vampires, he can be in the sun, he’s alive, and blood doesn’t always agree with him.

I’ve heard from criticisms of the character and performance, but Simon, played by Kevin Zegers plays the role smoothly, sort of looks like a younger Ethan Hawke. He’s not supposed to be the major orator, cry baby, or hipster. Instead, Zegers had to bring some gloom to the unsunny film.

In Iwai’s style of depicting technology in his films, Simon incorporates a suicide website to find his donors who then turn out to be all hot females, from a grown up Whale Rider Keisha Castle-Hughes, blonde Adelaide Clemens, Iwai’s often used Yu Aoi, the effervescent Kristen Kreuk, and “brain on drugs” Rachel Leigh Cook. Emmy award winner Amanda Plummer ads an odd hand as Simons dementia plagued mother in a role that she nails easily. The shots look like something Sofia Coppola could have shot. The images are soft and tender, even in their sad situations. The mix of sparseness and relaxed tones make for a project that looked very Iwai-esque. Nothing gets rushed and everything finds it’s poetic pace that joined by Iwai’s own piano compositions.

Shot with Canon 5D, the picture looks sharp. The handheld aesthetic works since it’s not overly shaky, and instead ads a humanistic element to the often ethereal scenes. But standing forward is the Iwai style of making the females look great, telling a dramatic and difficult story about a “Vampire” who’s really not a vampire.