Ana Lily Amirpour’s voguish, well-received modern vampire pic, less artful than fashionably artsy, has all too quickly devolved into a Do-Not-Return bottle of Sundance buzz. Bathed in WideScreen monochrome cool, it stars a white T-shirted James Dean wannabe* who roams a decaying town crushing on his classic roadster, a pear-shaped cat & the bloodsucking stranger who sleepwalks thru town trolling for victims. Amirpour lays on the dread & atmosphere with an impasto knife; then hangs around to watch it dry. With little talent for dramatic composition, she coasts on eye-candy magazine layout shots, favoring static, angst-ridden stares of gelid passion. (Offering plenty of time for deep-think theorizing.) Small wonder that the recent release of her dystopian follow-up, THE BAD BATCH/’16 (with Keanu Reeves & Jim Carrey, no less), opened to near complete indifference except for a few critics playing catch-up.
SCREWY THOUGH OF THE DAY: *Much of Dean’s iconographic appeal stemmed from only appearing in color films at a time when that wasn’t ubiquitous, especially in serious drama. Now, b&w sets you up.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For artistic engagement with this subject, try Carl Dreyer’s inexplicable VAMPRY/’32. (Look for Criterion’s 2-disc set.) OR: Béla Tarr’s WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES/’00 to see what Amirpour may have had in mind.