October 31, 2016


Neil Jordan, 2013
Next to the zombie genre, the next sub-genre of horror movies could certainly be vampire movies. Although lacking in offerings over the last five or so years (Twilight fatigue perhaps?), its a category sure to continue contributing to the world of film. I will start right off the bat by saying I believe the best vampire film of all time is Let the Right One In, and I don't even have to think about it. There are things done in that film that I still think about from time to time, and it has one of the best movie endings ever made. It is a horror film full of confidence, not afraid to break the vampire conventions. It's unique, bold, darkly beautiful. It examines eternal life fully, negative aspects and all. Something that Interview with a Vampire wasn't able to fully do. But Byzantium is actually more like Let the Right One In in the sense that it gives a more broad examination as well, while also breaking some of the stale vampire conventions that dull the genre.

You could argue that its a character study; mostly focusing on Eleanor's (Saoirse Ronan) struggles. She never had a choice when it came to becoming what she is. Spared by death but cursed by eternal life, she is lonely in her perpetual existence. Eager to share her story with anyone interested in hearing it, not able to keep it bottled inside of her, most people aren't able to comprehend. And of course when she meets an elderly man who is able to understand what she is, he looks at it as more of a swift exit for him and an offering for her. Byzantium has a stylistic aesthetic that is also similar to Jim Jarmusch's 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive in the sense that it follows two floating bloodsuckers through a decaying modern landscape. But Byzantium manages to make the story more compelling. While Lovers is more of a draining (no pun intended) bought of depression that you are forced to endure for 2 hours, Eleanor's struggles are more compelling and the backstory is ripe with intrigue.

One of the best parts of Byzantium is it doesn't struggle to offer you a complete story. It literally gives you a modern day storyline with flashbacks going back to 200 years prior, and still manages to wrap things up with a good sense of closure and a satisfying ending while maintaining balance. And that is by definition a good movie.

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