In recent years, there has been a notion that vampires have all but disappeared from the horror genre, instead having moved on to dominate the field of paranormal romance in the wake of smash hit young adult series like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. But even though it took some years, the popularity of Twilight has almost completely waned. And even when it was at the height of its success, vampires were still making their place in horror. You just had to look a little harder for them.
Now, hopefully, we’re seeing something of a renaissance of innovative vampire features. Just in the past few years we’ve had a couple of really impressive films in the subgenre that have been some of the most intelligent and interesting that we’ve seen in some time. Some of them have used vampirism to weave a tale about immortality, others were a good-natured breakdown of the tropes and conventions of vampires, while others have simply used them as a monster to weave a genuinely frightening tale.
Hopefully, this continues and we start seeing more and more vampire features being made that at least contain elements of the horrific. Because this monster is maybe the oldest in the genre’s history and will never disappear, even if its popularity moves in cycles, it always comes back.
Directed by Neil Jordan, who helmed one of the most interesting vampire features ever made with Interview With the Vampire, Byzantium is focused on a mother and daughter—both vampires—who hide out from others of their kind in an old, rundown hotel. It’s a quiet, moody thriller that oozes with lavish style in the same tradition that made Interview such a huge hit at the time of its release.
One of the first vampire movies of this decade, Stake Land is still one of the best. Its treatment of vampires is very similar to a zombie film as it is set in a post-apocalyptic America that is overrun with the undead. It’s incredibly well directed, especially for its budget, with a great cast that includes Nick Damici and Danielle Harris, both in some of their most dramatic roles.
One of the most original vampire films in recent memory, Grace is about a pregnant woman who suffers a miscarriage but is determined to deliver the baby to term even though it is dead. The baby is not dead when it is born, however, at least not all the way. And the more blood the baby is fed, the healthier it becomes. It’s an incredibly powerful, chilling look at what a mother will do to protect their child, no matter the cost.
It may be a very recent release, but What We Do in the Shadows is simply the most fun you’re going to have with a vampire movie this year. I suspect that this one will become a cult favorite and continue to build its audience as the years pass. It centers on a documentary crew chronicling the lives of a group of modern-day vampires sharing a flat in New Zealand.
Noted for being the first “Iranian vampire Western” A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a very tight, minimalist film that follows the lives of people in a ghost town known as Bad City as they are unknowingly stalked by a vampire. This one gained a lot of attention at festivals, including Sundance, before finally landing on Netflix. While it’s more methodical and calculated than others on this list, it’s definitely worth a watch and is highly recommended.
While it could be sold on the star power of Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton alone, it helps that Only Lovers Left Alive is simply a great vampire film in its own right. It gets the most out of its excellent cast and is incredibly well directed by the fantastic Jim Jarmusch. It’s a perfect study of nocturnal lifestyles made by a fairly nocturnal director. This is one of the best vampire movies in recent memory, and you would think people would have discovered it based on the A-list casting, but they really haven’t. Which is a shame because those who haven’t seen it are truly missing out.