Vampyr (1932)

Allan Grey (Julian West) is a drifter obsessed with the supernatural. While on a journey he comes to a village that is under attack from a vampire.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Cast: Julian West, Maurice Schultz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz, Jan Hieronimko

MPAA Rating: N/A

Fun Fact: Julian West offered to finance the film in exchange for the lead role.

Vampyr is one of those older horror films that I had never heard of. It was released in Europe at the time when the American horror scene was taking off with Universal. Vampyr is a German film that also has a French version to it. It was also during the time when talkie pictures were starting to come around after the end of the silent film era. Director Carl Theodor Dreyer wanted it to be a silent film but, went with spoken dialogue.

It’s an interesting film with the blend of silent and talking. We get moments of characters speaking together and title cards where it explains what is going on. Back in that era it wasn’t a revolutionary idea to do something like that. If it were to happen today it would be a unique idea. I found the silent parts with just the music the best parts of the film. It brings a suspenseful tension to the film. While there isn’t much dialogue we get plenty of the silence and the music. It brings a creepy feel that I haven’t really seen in horror films. With those types of scenes and the right camera work you get a genuine feel of unsettlement. The cinematography is unique and it has different and interesting camera angles.

Another thing that’s interesting is the main character Allan Gray. In most vampire films, we have a vampire expert trying to take down the enemy. In this Allan Gray is just a student learning about vampires. That gives the viewers a new look into the hero’s in these types of films. If you have a character that doesn’t really know what they are up against, it gives us interesting character buildup and you will get invested into that certain character.

The thing that might bring this film down a bit for some is that there’s a lot of explanation and not much payoff. We get lots of scenes of explanation of what vampires are and not much action with them. I don’t want to spoil anything but, if you are a fan of certain vampire films then you might not be into this one. While there is not much payoff, once you think about it the more it makes sense. You should get into the atmosphere of the film and really think about what is going on with the characters and the town so to speak.

Overall, Vampyr is a different take on vampire films and horror in general. It has a unique atmosphere and is a nice blend of silence and talk. While it might not be a revolutionary thing at that time, it might inspire something today. The cinematography in unique and it helps bring the creepiness to the film. Some might find it boring as there is quite a bit explanation but, there is different things to keep you interested. We also get a different lead character that most vampire films don’t have now.

Verdict: Hit


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