One of those rare recent films I’ll sometimes delve into mainly because they occasionally reference one of my passions (monsters, motorcycles, martial arts, entomology, damsels-in-peril, etc . . . ), and sometimes I’m clued in by a friend that I might just need to have a look-see. My buddy Darrell pointed this one out to me and he’s right, it’s a very artistic and dreamy-slow take on a tiny group of folks living in a mostly deserted city in Iran who are beset by a cute vampire. It reeks of Jarmusch’s sensibilities and style, but that’s a fine director to mimic if you gotta mimic one!
Is it anywhere near as good as He Never Died (2015) starring Henry Rollins as the most fed-up undead you’ve ever seen? No. It’s not that deep, and no one is going to dare to that direction without Rollins who brought so much casual ennui to the concept that it’s instantly classic and hilarious watching him play bingo. I’m told even the sequel (just came out) kind of doesn’t follow the original’s feel or temperament.
Just the same, the novelty of an Iranian black and white vampire picture that is filmed like a molasses slow dance around prostitutes, and drug dealers, and trying to steal back a classic car, a lost cat, and keeping a little kid out of trouble, while hoping to get a junkie off the junk . . . well . . . it’s compelling enough. Though, had I not seen the poster, I’d have not been wondering when the vampire part of the film was going to start! It’s a little like the promise of cake at the party and waiting and waiting for the cake . . . where’s the damned cake!?
Jarmusch (because I’m reminded here of Jim) also did a kind of vampire film (Only Lovers Left Alive 2013), but his was really a sort of narcoleptic, reclusive rock-star send-up, having more to do with a kind of artistic lifestyle than anything really human-angst about being an immortal needing to suck on blood-which still, if you think about it, is pretty silly. Why we keep this goofy fantasy alive is only for the dark sensuality that surrounds it, and in our current film it’s provided by the character who is only one step above the child she menaces in terms of stature. Making it difficult and pretty amusing. I’m reminded of old Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.
Still, there’s enough here that’s novel to make for an interesting viewing even if the story is thin and relying on the setting and the big-eyes of our protagonist.
this one will cost you a few bones on Amazon Prime, but watch He Never Died , and Stranger than Paradise first, that’ll give you the “feel” of what I mean.