Real horror films get under your skin without asking, but in a way that you, in a way, sort of want them to. "Vampyr" is one of those horror movies that scares and intrigues but still leaves you with a good feeling. Perhaps this is because it is a feast not only intellectually; but also for anyone who views the horror cinema with a child-like sense of wonder. True horror fans enjoy films such as this one over the usual sadistic crap that plagues the genre these days. This is a rather definitive classic.
Running at only 73 minutes, "Vampyr" is short and therefore it must do a lot in that limited running time. I wasn't so sure how much I'd like it when I initially pursued it, but then I heard all this praise regarding its atmosphere, and that lead to my personal viewing. As always with films that are great, I'm glad I gave it a chance. In fact, I gave this thing TWO chances. I couldn't absorb everything on that first night that I watched it, but now I think I've taken in just about everything I CAN take in.
Allan Gray arrives in a small village to strange, supernatural occurrences. First, he sees an old man come in to his room in the middle of the night and leave a packet which says "to be opened upon my death" on Allan's table. Then, things just keep getting weirder-and-weirder.
But that's precisely the point of the film. "Vampyr" is outlandish and sometimes absurd, but both can be seen as two of the film's many charms. I believe that this film is unique and truly out-there; and for that, it deserves to be called "great cinema". I'm fine if not everyone agrees, and not everyone will, but I love surrealist films or any film that presents images as startling and creepy as this one. And yes, "Vampyr" makes for some seriously delightful surrealism.
With strange happening such as the discovery of dancing, very-much-lively shadows and the sudden illness of one of the village's residents, one has to question: just what the hell is going on? Why are old men suddenly being murdered by other men with guns? Why is Allen having dreams involving nothing but his head in a box? It is explained and implied that the village is under the curse of a Vampire; a term which is used with the spelling "vampyr" in the film. Given that this is a German film, I think we can all recognize why that is.
Black-and-White was not a choice for this film, visually. But as always with films made in a time where color was scarce, this visual style works better for the film than any color schemes ever could. Black-and-White actually lends "Vampyr" a creepy, gothic, atmospheric feel. Anybody who loves horror movies will appreciate this, making it easier to enjoy the film. This isn't the most accessible classic even for its genre, but it contains images so inspiringly creepy that I just have to go along and love it; because that is brutal honesty.
But great films are not always accessible. "Vampyr" is loved by many, and for good reason. The film itself unfolds like a true nightmare, yet those truly intoxicated won't want to leave. I drifted pleasantly in the depths of this film, because they were both deep and interesting. There is some serious directorial brilliance going on here, and directorial brilliance, quite frankly, usually amounts to all-out awesomeness. That happens here; oh yes it does. The experience of watching the film is so great, so rich, do DIFFERENT, that I'm having some problems properly describing it. Just know that the film is one of visual power, and love it or not, the images will stick with you. And if you are like me, they will influence you. And influence is always welcome; just not always existent. But I'm glad I was treated to watching this film, and even gladder that I found it so darned interesting and inspiring. You can find inspiration in the strangest of places. And in the horror genre is where I find quite a lot of mine.