With the publication of his novel Dracula, Bram Stoker brought the concept of vampirism to the masses. While entities with vampiric tendencies have existed in folklore dating back to ancient civilisations, the vampire as it’s known today can be traced to south-eastern Europe during the 18th century. The tropes and lore of this supernatural being form part of popular culture, but in Dead & Beautiful the romanticism of this image is tackled head-on.
A group of five young people (Alex – Yen Tsao, Bin – Philip Juan, Ana – Anna Marchenko, Lulu – Aviis Zhong and Mason – Gijs Blom) live in different parts of the world but have one thing in common. They’re all from super-rich families and therefore can do whatever they like while having no commitments or responsibilities. This lack of purpose leads to a peculiar form of upper-class ennui which results in them playing games to spice up their lives. When Ana takes them to a shaman to experience black magic, they geta little more than they bargained for.
Dead & Beautiful is an intriguing film which plays with the vampire mythos through the gaze of innate privilege. The first half shimmers in the neon haze, with nods to the likes of Near Dark and ‘90s erotic thrillers. Unfortunately, somewhere around the halfway point David Verbeek’s film gets lost. The need for action and drama becomes pressing and the script cannot effectively respond. It just seems to get lost. Nevertheless, there’s a style and subdued pace to Dead & Beautiful which will appeal to many fans of the sub-genre.
Dead & Beautiful premieres on Shudder on 4 November.