Directed by Neil Jordan
Written by Moira Buffini
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, and Caleb Landry Jones
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.
Neil Jordan, the director of Interview with the Vampire, is back with a uniquely original vampire tale of a mother and daughter forced to find a new home after decimating London for years. The two move to the Sussex coast, hoping to find a better and less suspect life. Some of their dreams are realized, but a new trail quickly forms due to the actions of the mother (Arterton), who plays a blood-thirsty predator. The daughter (Ronan), longs for more, but has problems of her own. The two finally settle down in a hotel where a Sussex native (Daniel Mays) finds the mother to be the object of his desire. I could have done without that whole part of the film.
I was drawn into the film until the second act, where my attention waned. Of course, the vampire genre and it’s struggle to create new and interesting mythology, is challenged at best. Byzantium digs deep and manages to present a cool spin on Stoker’s ages old origin story. I loved the Gothic imagery, the constant use of the color red, and all the accompanying visual components one would expect from a writer/director team this talented. Ultimately, I found the film intriguing, but the mundane problems presented in the film wore me out in the end. The price of immortality…
A lot of horror fans will perhaps enjoy the dark romanticism the film creates in each frame, and those same fans might miss the brutal vampire elements not added to this film. So long are the flying, super-fast, super-strong monsters that make up shows like True Blood. The film is kinder and gentler, perhaps even offering a feminist view of the world these two bloodsuckers inhabit, but it’s a slow burn with a slow payout. This will make for a good atmospheric rental, but most horror fans will inevitably yawn by the end. Cool concept and execution, it’s just lacking passion in my humble opinion. Rent at your own risk.