Very seldom in a film does the setting play an actual character in the story. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy had Gotham play the series’ lead protagonist and Kubrick’s The Shining had it’s actors somewhat overlooked in comparison to the character study given to us in the perspective of a haunted winter getaway. Carl S. Dreyer’s Vampyr is yet another addition to this list of examples. A 1930’s expressionist horror flick that syphons its prowess from its extraordinary use of surrealist lighting and set pieces that make many an audience question the fabric of normality.
This slow but driving narrative does a bang up job at making you feel isolated and just as lost as the film’s main character is. You’re able to relive your first couple hours of kindergarden again, but it takes place in a world where your own shadow is self aware, anyone holding a dangerous piece of gardening equipment is silhouetted and a menacing blank stare is the new shit eating grin. If you’re a fan of more modern day surrealists such as Guy Maddin or Shinya Tsukamoto then you’ll have a great time eloping with this one. The seminal version of this film can be found on the Criterion Collection(#437).
– The Spork Guy